Life will choke you out

2-3 days per week I go to a nondescript building where grown men (and occasionally women) will try to choke me to death and break my limbs. It costs $120 a month and it’s completely legal. Sometimes I think I’m going to die when I’m being crushed under the weight of someone twice my size, but I know that all I need to do is hold out for a few more seconds so I can escape or just politely ask him/her to let me go. The twisted community I belong to is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy.

For 30-60 minutes a class, a gang of stronger and/or more skilled students take turns reminding me that I’m not a winner, but I am a survivor. Jiu-Jitsu is about proving that I can endure 7 minutes of misery and come out alive on the other side just to relive that torture after a minute of rest.

Bipolar is a black belt that I can’t ever beat. It’s always 5 moves ahead of me and knows just what to do to cause maximum damage. Every time I think I beat it, it comes back even harder as if to punish me for thinking I could win. It wants to suffocate me and break my body. I could let it, too. Just give up and never get back on the mat of my life. Walk away from everything because I don’t want to deal with the pain of trying to fight this seemingly invincible opponent.

And yet I still go to Jiu-Jitsu class to get beaten by guys that are just as invincible as this illness. Some of those guys I’ll never be able to beat, but they know that they’re going to see me on the mats again. I could quit so easily and no one would judge me. This sport is hard on the body and the ego. Still, something compels me to go back and get my ass kicked.

Most of my ability to survive and escape while sparring just comes naturally because I’ve been surviving a mental illness that started to sink its hooks into me when I was 14 years old. What I do learn everyday I spar is that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by a force more powerful than myself. That I may be suffocating, but it won’t last forever. That if something becomes too much for me to handle, I can tap out and live to fight another day. Surviving Bipolar is the same as fighting for 7 minutes in Jiu-Jitsu hell. It isn’t about winning. It’s about getting so used to the futile struggle that I can keep fighting my losing battle against Bipolar.

Weight Gain & Bipolar

After I left St. Louis, I had a few months until I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on mood stabilizers. Until then, the doctors put me on Risperdal, which is an anti-psychotic that helps treat psychosis and delusions, but also has a nasty habit of making patients gain an incredible amount of weight in a short period of time. I was on that bullshit medication for 3 months and boy did I get fat. The insatiable cravings resulted in me snacking incessantly throughout the day and eating an Amy’s microwaved meal before bed. All the exercise I did couldn’t stave off the calories I was consuming.

During my brief, but delicious time as Chubby Pete, I was accepted into a small Liberal Arts school near my parents’ house called Elmhurst College. Before classes started in the Spring of 2009, I went to get my ID taken at the library. Actually, Chubby Pete went to get his ID taken. The picture was terrible. I had a double chin and my jacket was sliding off one shoulder. The poor lighting didn’t do me any favors, either. “Who cares?” I thought to myself. “It’s not like any one will ever see this anyway.”

By the time classes started up, I was off the Risperdal for good and getting accustomed to my new Lithium regimen. I was getting down to a healthier weight and looking more like myself. I commuted to school from my parent’s house so I usually ate a light breakfast at home. However, I’d occasionally head over to the cafeteria to pick up a healthy snack in between classes. One of the cashiers there was a middle aged Polish woman who was always delighted by purchases. “Very good choice!” she’d say as she rung me up. She’d even give me tips on how to make the Greek Yogurt healthier by using honey instead of the provided jam or how diluting the juice with water can cut down on the sugar. I thanked her for the advice, but I thought it was weird to ruin a $3 bottle of Naked Juice by adding water to it.

Anyway, my special relationship with her carried on for the entirety of my college career and I was always oblivious as to why she took such an interest in my diet. I started to notice that she never gave Kelly any tips. Then, right before graduation, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. She simply asked me, “You’re doing so good. How much weight did you lose?” Kaboom. It all made sense. Every time I used my student ID to pay for food, the picture of Chubby Pete would pop up in a big window on her computer screen so she could verify that someone else wasn’t using my card. What a sweet woman. Trying to coach and guide a young man so he doesn’t fall back into the trap of fatness. It must have killed her whenever I bought fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Nowadays, I’m not as skinny as Svetlana would like me to be, but I guess I don’t qualify as full blown Chubby Pete. I have to be on the Zyprexa way more than I had to be in college so it’s harder to keep off the pounds. At least I avoid the Amy’s frozen dinners, though.

There’s a certain place in hell for you

Hell seems relatively benign, you think to yourself. There’s no scary demons with pitchforks poking you in the butt or unholy monstrosities feeding you your own butthole. No, it’s just a rather innocuous looking office break room. There’s comfortable looking chairs, a TV, and even fun co-workers to whittle away eternity with. Even better, there’s catered food everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You managed to find that little slice of heaven in hell you lucky bastard.

But wait, what’s that pain in your forehead? Every few seconds you get a jolt in your brain that tells you you missed your morning cup of coffee. But how is that possible? You always have it first thing in the morning. Now you remember. It was empty when you tried to pump out some coffee so you decided to wait until some other poor sap had to make a fresh pot. No one else was around to pressure you into making it so you just strolled away carefree and resolved to return in 15 minutes to get your fill. Looks like you forgot to do that and now you’re paying the price. Oh well, there’s surely coffee available now. Finish up your lunch and get your afternoon cup on.

Uh oh. Everyone else had the same idea and now you’re in a stupid line. It’s okay though because there’s only two more in front of you. Once the two of them are done, you’ll have your sweet caffeine fix. Great. The first person just filled it to the top and they are on their merry way. That last pump of coffee was a little loud so it may be running low, but hopefully you’ll be able to get some without having to make it. The guy in front of you starts to pump coffee and manages to fill his mug halfway before nothing but air exists the carafe.

“Sorry, I’m already late for a meeting. Can you make the next pot?” the guy says to you. There’s a long line of people staring daggers at you so you succumb to the pressure and reassure him that you will. He gives you a hearty pat on the back and disappears down the corridor.

This is only your second time making coffee and the caffeine headache is starting to wear on you. It doesn’t help that everyone else in line is expecting a speedy performance. You never performed well under pressure. After struggling to attach the filter to the basket and spilling a teaspoon of coffee grounds on the fake marble counter, you manage to get the machine brewing. 5 minutes to go until you can get a fresh cup. You’re first in line and nothing can get in the way of you curing this coffee hangover.

Nothing except your Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Just as the time hits 1 minute, you feel an undeniable urge to shit your britches. There’s no way you can wait for 1 minute to fill up your mug so you run off to the bathroom. The first bathroom is small and both stalls are already occupied so you run across the atrium to the other bathroom. Those are occupied, too. You can feel the levees start to break. If you can’t find a stall in the next 30 seconds, you will poop your pants. You frantically run up the stairs to the bathroom on the top floor, but it’s closed for cleaning. Utterly defeated, you surrender and let out a steamy dump in your pants.

Your headache is worse than ever and shit is dripping down your legs. You can never leave this place to take a shower and you didn’t bring an extra pair of pants. At least there will still be coffee. You carefully head back to the break room, making sure to avoid the noses of any co-workers. What luck! The break room is empty and the coffee carafe is all to yourself. You walk your shit covered ass over to the carafe and prepare yourself for your hard earned cup of coffee. You pump and nothing comes out. You pump again. Still nothing. You pump three times. Still nothing. Seemingly out of nowhere, a giant line of twenty-something business professionals has gathered behind you. Each member of the line is holding a coffee mug and asking “what’s that smell.” They tell you to make another pot. You comply. You’re first in line and you’re guaranteed a cup of coffee this time. There’s no way you have any more poop left in your body. It currently resides between your calves and your waistband.

Oh how wrong you were. The gurgling in your stomach comes back. But you don’t care anymore. You already shit your pants once. You co-workers already know you’re the source of the smell. You let go right in the break room in front of all your peers. At that time, the coffee machine beeps to let you know it’s ready. With a smile on your face and a song in your heart, you place the carafe back on its stand and fill up your mug to the brim with the best damn cup of coffee you’re ever going to enjoy.

Then you see the empty package that held the grounds you used to make the coffee. It says “Decaf” on it. That’s not going to help your caffeine withdrawal at all. What’s more, that was the last bag of coffee in the drawer. You overhear someone say that they won’t have more coffee bags until the morning.

You wake up late the next morning feeling relatively refreshed. You must have changed your pants at some point last night and taken a shower. Nonetheless, you resolve to make the best out of your situation. Coffee can’t dictate your happiness. But wait, what’s that pain in your forehead? It’s exponentially worse than yesterday’s throbbing migraine. Which, come to think about it was worse than the migraine you had two days prior. And that one was far worse than the one you had three days prior. How long have you been in this place? How many times have you shit your pants in front of your colleagues? Why didn’t you just make the coffee when it was your turn while you were still alive and had the chance to avoid this fate?

When Zeus does it, it’s rape

Disclaimer: If you believe in the Christian/Hebrew God, I’m accusing God of being a rapist. Primarily because he is.

For 9 long years I went to St. John of the Cross grade school. For the first 6 years, Jesus was all love and jazz. Then we found out in 6th grade that every time we masturbated it made Baby Jesus cry and if we kept doing it we’d go to hell with all the serial killers and aborted babies. I loved masturbation though so my nights went from saying the Hail Mary 7 times before falling asleep to masturbating myself asleep. I always felt a little guilty about that when I thought God existed and gave a shit about my penis.

Nowadays I’m a full blown atheist who masturbates guilt free. I’ve also been thinking about how hard it is to be a woman in light of the #MeToo movement. A few weeks back I had a manic thought that I haven’t be able to shake. Mary, mother of Jesus, was raped by God.

To make this argument, all we have to look at are the rapes committed by Zeus. He was the most powerful Greek god with the capability to take on various forms to deceive humans into fucking him. And he took advantage of that power many times. And each time he did we called it rape because fucking someone without explicit consent is rape motherfuckers. Our Lord and Savior, God, also was able to take the shape of a super sexy ghost that impregnated a sleeping, married teenager without her consent.

God, being impulsive yet merciful, was probably too horny to think of the consequences and then scrambled to come up with a plan to keep Mary from getting stoned to death for being a rape victim. So he sent a powerful, persuasive Angel to persuade Mary and her husband Joseph to keep quiet about the whole rape thing and raise the child as their own. In exchange, he promised three kings would visit the newborn with valuable gifts. God essentially sent Michael Cohen with some hush money to keep Mary quiet. What the literal fuck. The Immaculate Conception is the rapiest story in Christian lore.

Sorry, Mom.

The dog contract

A few days ago Kelly told me a humorous anecdote. I will share it with my 5 robot followers in the hopes that I may help the robots learn to be more human so when they become our overlords they consider making me a pet/jester for their amusement.

Listen to this factual story and tell me that it does not tickle your robo-ribs. Kelly shared that her hair stylist has a sister. A sister is a person that normally shares human DNA with a male and/or female human/humans. On rare occasions, a sister may write a college admissions essay and a poem about a certain writer’s Bipolar Disorder and how it made her life difficult, but she managed to overcome the challenge of having a broken brother. I’ll share those ones at a later date.

Now this other sister studied to be a physical therapist in the United States. However, when it came time to take the physical therapist certification exam, she failed. Like any person who fails a test, she moved to China. In China, they’re so desperate for knowledgeable Americans that they don’t make them take tests. You hear that you American dogs. The quasi-Communist country that is kicking our ass at Capitalism doesn’t require certifications for trained professionals to practice their craft.

Anyway, this lovely sister uprooted her life to work as a non-certified physical therapist at a home for unlucky children. Some are permanently disabled and some had a temporary malady as a baby that was quickly resolved, yet branded them as undesirable for life. Disregard what I said in the previous paragraph. China is a place full of terrible parents who abandon their children in homes staffed by Americans because Americans actually care about sick kids. My wife and I suffer infertility and we can’t adopt any kids from China because I’m also considered an undesirable. I swear to god this story is funny and I’ll get there soon.

Okay, so this physical therapist turned Mother Teresa works for an American doctor at this camp. She oversees several Chinese therapists and a Golden Retriever therapy dog. She has tried, but failed to get certified in America twice more. As a result, she has decided that China is a better place to succeed. This American doctor has provided the most hilarious and ridiculous contract that may or may not be a thing in China: he gave her a French Bulldog in exchange for 5 more years of service. A fucking dog is in her contract. What happens to him if she breaks the contract? Are the Chinese going to eat him? That’s what they do sometimes. I love dogs so much. They probably taste loyal and full of unconditional love.

Note to robots:
Dogs make wonderful pets for robots and I would be happy to oversee all of the dogs on your behalf. Except for those dogs that look like mops. You can eat them.

Retail Judge: Energy Bars for Your New Year’s Resolution

Two weeks ago I decided to become a millionaire by starting a website. Like most of my big ideas, I dived in headfirst and bought a domain name, hosting service, and started learning HTML and the WordPress platform. Like most of my big ideas, I lost interest in the subject as well as confidence in my capabilities. This usually happens when I show passion for something. The only thing this hasn’t happened for is my wife, my dog, and video games. Probably because I don’t stress myself out about being a good husband, dog dad, or mediocre video game player. I just do what comes naturally.

So this website might still happen, but not now. Nonetheless, I decided it would be wise to get words onto paper to at least have a foundation. So here it goes, the first stab at Retail Judge. We’ll be looking at some popular Energy Bars today in anticipation of the health craze that comes every New Year’s. My lovely wife, Kelly and her feisty sister, Fallon, have been kind enough to help me out with my possibly short-lived endeavor. Fallon’s boyfriend, Morty, also joined us since he’s in culinary school and his expertise will help us sort through these dog turds and determine which dog turd stands strongest.

Before we get into the details, let’s get the winners and losers out of the way. The Kind and the Clif Bar tied for first place amongst the four judges, whereas the Larabar was chosen as a big turd by three judges. Morty considered the Complete Cookie to be a Complete Turd. The middle of the road turd was the RXBar which despite its pleasing packaging, turned out to taste like a chocolatey raisin. The Epic Bison was described as dog food at best and dog puke at worst. Everyone agreed that the Epic Bison was worse than all other bars. So there you have it, we ate one piece of dog food and five dog turds of varying quality. The circle of life is complete. Now onto the categories of judgment.

Packaging

RXBar won here with its simple, sleek design that told us exactly what was inside. That kind of candor is important in today’s lying world. The most disappointing packaging was the Complete Cookie. Both Fallon and Kelly agreed that they would never think it was an energy bar and that it was just a vegan cookie that they’d never buy. Of course, the Epic Bison was disgusting to look at, but we hadn’t tasted it yet so it was too quick to judge. There you have it folks. If RXBAR tasted like its packaging, it would be the clear cut winner. But it doesn’t so boo fucking hoo.

Smell

People often disregard smells, but who doesn’t love a good smell. I love the smell of cooked meat, cigars (unlit and lit), aged whisky, and my farts. That’s why we included smells. We wanted to see which one smelled the most like a fart. As expected, all the smells were terrible. However, the most terrible was the Epic Bison. “Holy shit. Smells like wet dog food,” I lamented. Kelly just said “Blugh” and died a little bit inside. The least offensive smell was the Kind bar which just smelled like a nut. Fallon doesn’t like nuts, but she understood that some people are nut lovers and said they’d like it.

Appearance

There can’t really be much of a winner here. Pretty much all look like dog turds except for the Epic Bison which looks like a mixture between dog food and dog puke. Though not the worst, both Morty and I agreed that the RXBar looked like protein blocks that would be consumed in a futuristic dystopia where robots and/or the wealthy elite run the world. Society may or may not live on a fast train ala Snowpiercer. The Larabar was described as a poop with corn in it while the Kind bar was glued together nuts. It also looked like extremely nutty poop. People shouldn’t feed their dogs nuts. There you have it, they’re all losers and poop/puke.

Taste

Here we are. The grand daddy of them all. The thing that the people who can make it through the disappointing packaging, sickly sweet smells, and turd-like appearance actually care about. For the most part, this carried 70% of the weight in regards to scoring so it won’t be a surprise that the Clif Bar and the Kind Bar were the highest rated. The Larabar was described as a “Garbage Bar” and all at the table questioned whether the Epic Bison was made for humans. Kelly had to take another bite of a different bar to get the mealy, salty taste out of her mouth.

Health

If a person were to actually finish one of these craptacular bars, they probably do it for their supposed health. Since protein is king here, the RXBAR came out ahead with 12g of protein. The Epic Bison was only 7g which only put it in the middle of the pack. Not worth the truly hellish experience of eating regurgitated dog food. The Larabar and Clif Bar had the most sugar with 20g and 21g, respectively. The Kind (5g sugar) and Epic Bison (6g sugar) were on the low end. Clif Bar was our heavy hitter calorie wise with 250g of sugar and the Epic Bison had the least amount with 130 calories. If health is your bag, I guess Epic Bison is a choice of sorts if you love your body and hate your taste buds.

Price

If you’ve made it this far, you probably don’t care about price since the taste hasn’t turned you off. However, if you’re like me, you typically don’t want to pay a dog’s owner too much for the honor of eating its turd. Therefore, you’d be wise to buy the Clif Bar as it was one of the most highly rated as well as the cheapest at $1. The Epic Bison was $2.79 which is quite an expensive price to pay a dog owner to stick his finger down his dog’s throw to sell you whatever comes out.

The End

There you have it. The End. Thank god. Next time I’m going to review fucking Nintendo Switch games or porn videos. Fuck eating this shit.

Medication Adventure: Ziprasidone

The Trileptal Incident of 2016 had two main repercussions. For one, it really fucked up my career prospects at my last company. Next, the break from Lithium somehow allowed the mania to grow stronger and develop a resistance to the Lithium once we reintroduced it after the Trileptal failure. Overall, the removal of the dynamic duo of Lithium and Lamictal still plagues me today.

Nowadays, I get one manic episode a month. Granted it’s not a full blown episode since I’m on a strong Lithium/Lamictal cocktail, but it still means Zyprexa makes regular guest appearances like Alec Baldwin as Trump on SNL. That means weight gain, chronic sleepiness, and hand tremors. Three weeks back I entered another Manic Episode and decided no more Zyprexa regardless of the consequences. When that spiraled out of control after two days, I gave in and popped the pills.

Out of desperation and against my instincts, I talked to Dr. Innocuous about adjusting my meds and now I’m on a daily dose of the antipsychotic Ziprasidone. I’m still on Lithium and Lamictal so that means my kidneys are fucked, but maybe I won’t have to take Zyprexa anymore if this combo works. Naturally, Ziprasidone has it’s own way of fucking with my body. I don’t feel as strong of cravings, but now I have insomnia. I don’t shake as much, but if I happen to wake up in the middle of the night I feel so sedated that it’s painful to walk.

People who don’t have Bipolar or Schizophrenia like to say that we stop taking our medicine because we start feeling better and think we don’t have to take it anymore. We’re not morons. We stop taking our medicine because the side effects are sometimes worse than the illness. Or the side effects will give us new diseases. I’m in mild kidney failure because of the Lithium and eventually will have to choose survival over sanity. I’ll have permanent tremors from the Ziprasidone and Zyprexa not to mention the high risk of diabetes. If you’re reading this and you hear that someone with Bipolar or Schizophrenia stopped taking their pills, it’s not because they think they’re cured. It’s because they decided that hallucinations and delusions and irritability are better than introducing more chronic illnesses into their already painful existence.

Fuck you normal people. I’ve never stopped my pills in the ten years since my diagnosis, but if I do I’ll know damn I’m not cured. I’ll never be cured .