My name is Edward (Ed) Caldwell. I started out in my younger years as Eddie then in 3rd grade became Eddy and after teendom, Ed which sounds more grown up. I answer to most anything. Some people call me Mister Ed after the 1960's TV star. I'm married with two daughters and more than one cat. I have a distant background as a professional artist and a less distant background as an electronics technician. I'm currently employed as a circuit board designer, the computer aided design (CAD) part of an engineering team that produces electronic circuit board assemblies. For the past several years, most of my work has been centered on circuit boards that help make the internet operate.
Some of my best life lessons and memories encompassed coaching my daughters in fast pitch softball for over ten years. I have MANY favorite players and memories to reflect from. My experience taught me a great deal about what it means to be a dad.
I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
if the moon were to speak
would we be humbled...
all our howling
This is a picture of me with another family member. I'm the one with both eyes closed.
I have bipolar disorder, the modern day name for what was professionally referred to as manic-depressive disorder until 1980. Great strides occurred towards the end of the last century in the successful treatment of this condition. New drugs became available that proved to control the emotional extremes over time. Unfortunately, many people with bipolar died from the effects of the disorder before this happened.
The bipolar condition is not always readily apparent to people that surround someone with the disorder. And unfortunately, not every person with bipolar responds well even to the modern medications that science has provided. Treatment is trial and error and depends a great deal on the bipolar individual to communicate honestly with their doctor to set a proper dosage of proper medications. Even then, there is no guarantee that the medications will work over a lifetime. Adjustments may need to be made from time to time to keep emotions in check. Fortunately, there are several options for doctors and patients to pursue. It is possible to lead a successful life with this condition.
My purpose in writing this is to share a little of my experience and hopefully inspire anyone with bipolar to realize that they can manage a relatively normal existence without the extreme polarizing effects. Diligently taking proper medications and a cautious lifestyle are the two main ingredients for my success. I learned over time how to coach my thinking to an extent that allows me to function around my more manageable symptoms. I'm not saying it's been easy, I've had my share of hospital constraint and recovery.
I must confess that I enjoyed the exhilarating feeling that comes with certain aspects of the manic phase. But diminishing the intoxicating manic phase with medication is a small tradeoff compared to how the mania can run out of control and the polarizing depression can at its worse include suicidal thoughts. It's all a matter of discipline, similar to managing diabetes. I must take the medication and coordinate honestly with medical professionals to set an acceptable dosage level toward achieving subsequent safe and appropriate behavior.
There are varying degrees of chemical imbalance among sufferers of this mental illness. Some, like me for example, can be stabilized with medication and discipline while others may not be so fortunate. Although I am thought of and more importantly, think of myself as somewhat "stabilized" I am not without what I call "mental management challenges". I learned early on that I am not what you would call "normal" and over my years I have learned that I can act outside of and cover up certain conditions that I experience. I see it as "it's just how it is" so I do the best I can.
Working with a doctor and their support group along with activities that do not represent episode “triggers” is fundamental. It is important to learn to recognize the mood triggers and avoid them where possible. There are some good books that help too, such as Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder by Julie Fast and Dr. John Preston. If you know someone that is bipolar I recommend giving the book a read, it's designed to help family and friends also.
life is sometimes like abandonment of reason focusing beyond what can be seen yet somehow from within the confines of this evolving universe... it's like climbing a tree looking for what can be found... and finding the reality fleeting and conditional... many times i wish for perfect vision... that illusive venue into the why and how and what is what should never be...
what actor knows
what the actor shows
melting as it grows
from stealth to prose
disclose not sanity's gage
yet revealed on earth's lighted stage
I wasn't quite sure what was wrong with me when I was younger but was inspired enough to draw what I had been feeling. The resulting pen and ink (featured in Beginnings) is below. It wasn't until much later that I was properly diagnosed as bipolar.
...the lower left end of the image (an upside down caricature of a human head) represents depressed thinking... the upper right end of the image (an upside up caricature of a dragon) represents manic thinking. The tiny dragon (or monster) inside the depressed human head illustrates suicidal thoughts that often can accompany depression while the manic fire breathing dragon at the opposite pole illustrates the energetic insanity.
Sometimes manic thinking can be quite vivid, even extremely pleasant, making perfect sense to the individual but not usually to other people. Delusions of grandeur are not uncommon in the manic state.
thoughts of glory
thoughts with story
oh wonderful feeling
keep the mind reeling
this prescription pleasure
without medicinal measure
Sometimes manic thinking becomes distant. Racing thoughts can seem to have a life of their own... at its worse, it feels like someone else is controlling the brain... this can be very painful mentally as well as physically, kind of like sitting in the pilot’s seat of a jet aircraft and trying to control it with an array of external overriding remote controlling operators fighting over what direction and how fast the plane will go and each operator has a different flight plan. This extremely unpleasant condition can be horrifying and bewildering at the same time. It could be comparable to watching a suspenseful horror movie that does not make sense or provide a break in the tension. Suicidal thoughts are also possible during the manic phase. Racing thoughts can lead to a feeling of hopelessness... a feeling of drowning in thought discontinuity... drowning in the sense of being aware of the lack of thought control.
thoughts fly by
not blinking an eye
the soul sees
the mind leave
is this madness
where is adeptness
i drown yet alive
as my soul cries
I see depression as an ever-wandering black hole seeking to devour life. It uses all sorts of tactics like reminding you in elaborate detail… over and over… any and all mistakes you’ve made in your lifetime. It also likes to tenderize you with thoughts of unworthiness, making you believe that you do not deserve to live. Another heart wrenching tactic is to take the joy out of the things that you love to do making you further feel inadequate unable to create and socialize. The most heinous of all is the life threatening suicidal thoughts that can occur. Life can seem too much to bear and at its worst, death appears to be relief. At extreme states, medical support and guidance from outside is usually needed.
I have dealt with depression on and off over decades of my life. I take my prescribed medication for bipolar, try to get good sleep and constantly work at controlling my thoughts. I know the black hole is starting to move closer when I begin to reflect on my history of mistakes. To combat, I tell my brain to think of something good that I did to change focus. It’s an ongoing mental battle that must be fought because the black hole wants to consume me. Writing this is an example of fighting the fight. It helps to focus on what I have learned in my experience. The most important thing is to remind myself that it DOES NOT LAST FOREVER and will subside in time. I repeat this many times in my head until I’m feeling better. Also important, is exercise and healthy eating habits including vitamins. Things I do play a big part in helping my cause.
The simple answer for dealing with depression is to battle the bad thoughts with good thoughts AND deeds... And stay the course because depression is a stubborn greedy black hole so you must work diligently and be determined to win. PLEASE ask for help from outside when you first sense your depression is heading out of control… it is very important that seeking help from outside be part of your battle strategy when the black hole gets too near.
the soul creaks
writhing wormy things bask in the dim
i shudder, i sicken, i'm sightless
oh when will this end...
this eclipse amidst the day
stealthy demons lurking in the shadow...
laughing insanely in its playground
more than a thorn in the side...
a black hole slowly devouring being
i linger coveting death...
but take heart... have patience!
relief has always been time away
hold on to the rim
you know darkness seeps...
only 'til light casts it back to the deep...
until darkness comes again
Currently, there's not a cure for bipolar disorder. However, science has developed several drugs that can help the brain operate without the extreme manic and depressed conditions. Having a caring and stable home life is also a great advantage. Managing bipolar is difficult at times but it is more so without people around you that want to help.
Home is where the mind can rest and the spirit can soar. (for the fortunate of us)