November 5, 2018: Some lessons come easy. Sometimes I have to beaten into submission. In the case of my health, spirituality, and happiness, I had to be completely crushed and torn down to nothing before real progress could begin. I began creating this website 10 months ago. I didn’t feel that the time was right to move forward. I knew that I was still holding on to ideas and principles that were unhealthy, egotistical, and I was not spiritually connected. I had made progress but would have felt like a fraud.
In July of 2017 I had made a decision, in a long manic state, to become homeless and just travel. Well, a set of very bad circumstances pushed me into this journey – some that I can never speak about. Some I do. Unfortunately, by the time I leveled out and tethered back to reality – I had crossed the point of no return. I had lost my home. Damaged relationships with friends and family. Caused physical damage to myself that I am just now recovering from. I was completely devoid of spirituality, hope, happiness, and didn’t have a desire to live. I was mearly surviving at the lowest level – waiting for death to come – even putting myself in extreme and dangerous situations. I was poking at fait and God, seeing how far I could push the boundaries. After my second suicide attempt, I had made a promise to my mother that I will always keep – I will never try to take my life again.
So I set out on this journey. I isolated. I relapsed. I had a goal to NOT stay anywhere long enough to connect with anyone – in terrible fear of hurting or disappointing another person. But I had learned enough along my journey, from recovery programs, and my several treatment centers – to push forward. I set forth with a goal of finding myself and finding happiness. After several months, I got sparks back. Then joy. Then began discovering amazing things about myself and loving myself and others. I connected in fantastic ways with people across america. I was invited to family barbeques and fell in love along the way. I faced many challenges with great success. I also fell down – hard – along the way. But instead of two steps backward and one step forward, I created a new rhythm. Two steps forward, one back. Reflect and learn. Three steps forward, one back. Cha cha cha…
That brings me to 10 months ago, when I wrote the below bio:
I have always know I was a little… different. I’ve never really cared to follow the normal path or worry about what others think of my odd ways. At times, I felt like I had ‘Demons’ within, that cause hurt and destruction. The younger me did spend a lot of time watching others and masking my own behaviors, to fit in as much as possible. As I grow into myself, I accept fully that my brain is wired a little different from most and that my reality at times isn’t quite in sync. And that is okay.
We all face challenges is life. But the things that happen, I am finding, are part of us but don’t solely define us. Plagued, in much of my early adulthood, by addiction – my best escape was to travel. I have worked two jobs most of my life, so that I could get out as much as possible. Whether it be section hiking the Appalachian Trail or backpacking through South America – I felt a peace like no other when I was with nature. In 2010, I checked into a county detox program and began the life of recover. There I discovered my spirituality and began discovering self. However, even in total sobriety, my life continued a cycle of self-destruction and chaos – no matter how hard I worked in the program and on self. The ‘Demons’ continued to emerge and wreak havoc. I continually was hurting those I cared about and disappointing most (including myself). After a few years of this, I seeked help.
In 2013, I was diagnosed bi-polar. Ahhhhhh… the demons (my mother always hated when I said that) was my undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder (with a handful of other diagnosis). The relief to know WHY… But, I still had a hard road ahead to repair my life and be healthy. The following few years were a pure blur and hell of medication experimentation. My odd body chemistry didn’t allow for any of the normal combinations of medications, to become level. Taking months to “up” a dosage and then to ween off – I was a prisoner in my own body as some of these psychotropic drugs inflicted horrific pain, some had me wanting to crawl out of my own skin, one of them caused muscle twitches and felt like cockroaches were crawling beneath my skin, and most had me in a washed out zombie state – where it was all I could do to get out of bed or perform basic functions. I went through 3 treatment centers and after my second suicide attempt, I earned a stay in a (almost) padded room for a short period of time.
Along the way, I have been told that the number one concern for those with bi-polar is medicine compliance. I learned that lesson too. I was my own worst enemy, constantly messing with doses or skipping my meds, altogether, to induce mania. These manic episodes would sometimes lead to drug relapse and last for weeks to months. Regularly, I would stay awake for a week or two straight – by the 9th day having hallucinations and in total psychosis.
So here I am. Still learning to consistently put in place all the tools to stability. But embracing myself for who I am. Still figuring out who I am, really. Sober, level, weird, silly me. Looking in the face of adversity, and finding little pieces of joy as I look at myself holistically. Not defined by the individual battles I have fought, but learning from those wins and losses and accepting them as a piece of the pie that is me.
I don’t remember where I read this quote, but it is written in a window (with a brightly colored chalk marker) of anywhere I call home: “Don’t live in regret; what you did was what you wanted or needed at the time.” That is so true. It is an accumulation of our experiences and learning from our mistakes that makes us into who we become.
I had no intention of making this journey public. It was my father who first gave me the idea. I think what he said was, “son, you do so many funny stupid things, you should tape yourself and put it on YouTube! Like the guy from New York that I’ve seen.” My mother said something similar, although a little less on the self-deprecating side. I already was recording the trip on Instagram by means of photos and silly videos (I was against this too, but found that my family and friends worried just a little less when they could see me every day). But without my tools, torch, and welder to focus my creative energy – I found a new outlet with my camera and a little editing. When I did make my Instagram page public, I was incredibly surprised at the number of new followers.
The real joy of this trip is that I have had a lot people tell me I’ve made a difference or changed their lives – even if only little bit. Some have said they are inspired to do what I am doing, others have been pulled out of their societal box and experience a touch of the unknown, some who are struggling with a past similar to mine (and believe like I did that there is no joy in life), and others getting a break from their reality – finding a little piece of their own joy. I’m moved by this. Thus creating this blog – to open my little world up. For now, it is simply a log of my adventures. In the future, perhaps more.
So I hope Bolt and I can bring a little smile to your face. It makes it all worth it.
One might think that this would have begun the end of heartache, relapse, extreme crippling depressions, and a “lived happily ever after” story followed.
I would like to say that I wish it was. But in reflection, I’m grateful for the fantastic tragedy that was my life in the past 10 months. I had been prepped, previously, with enough successes that I could handle the most challenging and gut wrenching destruction of self – through a series of misadventures that tore at my health, sanity, relationships, soul, and my world. These 10 months are filled with some fantastically amazing stories, but most involve a very dark tale that left me without hope or food on many occasions. The first thing that had to break was my unwavering pride – too proud to let other know how badly I was struggling. Once I was able to ask for help, I discovered who would stand by my side through the worst of it. This is when I looked to God and turned over my will completely. This is when I found the greatest gratitude for my family and friends – many of whom discovered me through Instagram or FaceBook support groups – that I have never physically met. But have the deepest connection to. I will share these stories with you, over time, as we build trust. But, they are fresh wounds and I need time to process them and make sence of it all. As you will come to find, these were adventures of the good, the bad, nightmares, and mysticism – some stories parallel to fantasy movies that I would say, “this couln’t possibly happen in real life.”
So, when I say that I am thankful for my friends, family, and followers – you have seen potential in me that I couldn’t. When I thought I was a bad person, you helped me to see that I was a good person at core that had done some bad things. When some of you have shared that my openness and honesty has helped you face your life challenges – you are helping me just as much by hearing my stories and connecting with me.
If you are struggling with life. If you feel hopeless. If you are afraid to speak up about how badly you feel or about your clinical illness…
I would like to share the words that I needed to hear, when I thought I was unique in my illness and that nobody could understand what I was going through. The words that were the light at the end of my tunnel.
You are NOT alone.