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Sunday, March 11, 2012

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

I read the news today, oh boy.

This is a lyric from the awesome Beatles song A Day in the Life.  It is a song that always resonates with me when I hear it.  It has bipolar-like highs and lows followed by periods of spacing out.

The tune is a first person account of a lonely guy's thinking day. He's an introspective and perhaps emotionally troubled fellow.  As he reads the newspaper he seems to be in a funky, depressed state where everything has less meaning.  You know, blah, regular, who cares.

He silently moves through life watching things and people.  When he's not being the contemplative observer, he drifts off and spaces out.  I can relate to that.  I space out in the middle of face-to-face conversations with people all the time.  Notice I said space out, not trip out.

So, in the newspaper he reads about a successful guy who's made it in life but dies suddenly in a car crash.  He expresses no emotion about the event, but ends up laughing about it even though it was a tragedy.

I do this sometimes during depression.  I feel unattached to my experiences.  I am numb to the world around me.  I find it really difficult to experience "genuine" emotions.  I find myself searching for the "appropriate" way to react.  Just another part of the pretense I put on for others because of bipolar disorder.

So, in a strange way tragedy can seem funny or comical to me .  Being able to find humor in the dark and gloomy is something that keeps me going.  Humor is one of my favorite coping mechanisms.

In my bipolar playbook the rule is go with whatever works.  Humor has a therapeutic value for me.  I would hate to think of where I would be without laughter and joking.

Friday I read about the bipolar flight attendant who freaked out an airplane full of people.  While it was clearly a serious event, I found myself amused as I learned about the incident.

American Airlines flight 2332 was taxiing toward takeoff from Dallas-Fort Worth when the attendant came on the the intercom to give preflight safety instructions.  But instead of the instructions she began speaking in a weird and incoherent manner, asking several times if they we're in Houston.  Uh, Houston we have a problem.

One paper said she was "talking in a word salad" about some incredulous things, saying the plane has mechanical issues and that they should return to the gate because it is going to crash.  She ranted about the airline's bankruptcy organization, a friend who died in 9/11, some union issues, and her 23 year career as a flight attendant.

She was getting the passengers spooked with her scary talk.  But at the same time she told them they needed to go back for more ice!  Now that's kind of funny.

She was wrestled to the ground and escorted off the plane.  The crew was replaced and they departed 81 minutes late.  According to one passenger the remainder of the jaunt to Chicago went smooth because of "liberal quantities of alcohol" and saying "The attendants were nicer than I ever seen.  They completely ran out of alcohol."  Maybe they should keep tranquilizers on hand for emergencies.

I try not to feel guilty about finding humor in the situation, especially since I can see myself doing the same thing!  During mania 2002 I had my own kind of "talk salad" while on a plane from L.A. to Houston.

I remember talking to the passenger next to me about things like flying, crashing, 9/11, and probably a bunch of other stuff considered inappropriate for a plane flight.  He was in the Air Force and seemed to be fine with the conversation.  I don't think things were too bad because I kept getting served beer.  The attendants are quick to cut you off when you've drank too much.

Anyway, some people were definitely not kosher with what I was saying!  When we landed in Las Vegas to change planes the airline staff detained me.  They said I was saying things that were upsetting the passengers.  So they booted me off the connecting flight!  To the old lady that was scared out of her britches, "Sorry, it was an unintended manic moment."

The next day I was allowed back on a plane to Houston but not without a stern warning not to do whatever I did again.  They made me sit in the very back of the jet.  I suppose this was to keep me closer to the flight attendants for observation.  We made it to Houston on schedule without a hitch.

Speaking of Houston did you hear about Whitney Houston's blah blah blah . . .

I read the news today, oh boy.

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