I’m Ryan and at some point, I’ve probably F*CKED you over and until now it wasn't my fault.
The decision to share this is one of the most difficult decision I have ever made. I am a man that doesn’t like to show weakness, let alone disclose things about my personal life. I have put so much thought into whether to share this and have decided that no matter what the repercussions, it needs to be shared. I have only recently confided in less than a handful of people and watching one of those people stare at me in awe because they seemed all too familiar with parts of my story as it related to someone, they had concerns with in their life. Just knowing the damage that I have caused others, if I can save one person from either doing what I have done to people in their lives or help someone recognize the signs that someone they care about needs help, it will be worth it.
I’m Ryan and if we have ever had any type of relationship during the last 35 years, I’ve probably fucked you over, and until now it wasn’t my fault. It is very important for you to understand that I am not writing this on one of my good days. You will soon understand what that means, however be aware that writing this is a huge struggle for me. If it were one of my good days, I would be able to write all my thoughts in 2 days, instead, there are times where it is taking me 8 hours to write 50 words. It’s not one of my good days.
I’m 48 years old and have a BS Accounting from Rutgers, was a decorated police officer for over 12 years, owned and operated a successful nutrition & vitamin shop, have 3 beautiful teenage daughters, self-published a children’s book series that received honorable mention at the NYC Book Festival, created and operate a professional marketing company, and I just published the first copy of a magazine that is taking the area by storm! Pretty awesome, right?
So why the fuck am I sleeping on my ex-wife’s couch, who is fighting eviction because I haven’t paid child support in months? I have no car as it was repossessed. I think about killing myself, sometimes daily. It takes everything I have, which isn’t much, to get off the couch and try to push through another day. I have less than $1 to my name, literally cents in my bank accounts. I try to avoid my daughters in case they ask me for $5, but I owe them money as I have borrowed from them. Yes, you read that right, I have had to borrow from my daughters. I hate myself, don’t eat unless I’m literally about to pass out, then it’s usually junk food. I don’t care about my health or my physical appearance. I just don’t care, fuck it all!
I just have to wait it out, because I know it will get better soon, it always does.
But wait, just 6 months ago, my life was great! My mind was racing all night long about the new magazine I was going to produce and publish. The ideas were so great, I couldn’t wait until it was business hours so I could start calling people and make these ideas reality! Life was great and I had so much pride and energy! I was constantly sketching and writing notes, all day long. You should have seen the quality and detail of all the spreadsheets, media kits, marketing plans and forecasts I was able to create. I spent hours and hours building a beautiful website and social media platforms. Why have someone else do these things when I have the focus, drive, passion and desire to learn it and complete it myself? I loved talking on the phone and meeting people to tell them how this magazine was going to be so different than anything out there. I was so fired up about my magazine idea and again, life was great! Not only the magazine, but I’m so motivate about everything! I can’t wait to get to the gym, get home after a long day to start chopping vegetables and creating healthy dishes, schedule meetings with potential contributors and advertisers! I was spending time with the kids, doing things with my girlfriend, taking weekend trips and more! Nothing can keep me in bed! This magazine was going to be so much fun and so great, it was going to be my new career forever. I moved in with my girlfriend which was a big step because she lived 40 minutes from where my ex-wife lives with my kids. It was great, I didn’t mind the drive and living with her was great, she was so supportive of my new business venture and the kids really liked her as well. The sunshine, stars and fresh air made me feel alive!
Those were good days.
Once again, I pulled off the impossible. People still don’t know how I did it! I created a concept for a new print and online magazine, created a business and marketing plan, put a team together, and within 3 months built a website, sold ads, got content written and launched a beautiful print and online magazine! People often tell me that they still can’t believe I put that together so quickly. The reality is, the motivation behind this magazine is my life and the fact that I have always lived my life trying to overcome something. This magazine is inspired by my life and in turn is inspiring me to take advantage of resources that are available and be a healthy person. This magazine is inspiring me to accept that having a mental sickness is not embarrassing or something to be ashamed of. This magazine is inspiring me to look inside and don’t be afraid to tell people what I see.
That’s what I do! Like I mentioned before, there was the nutrition store that we started and within 6 months had such a popular store that everyone wanted to partner with me or franchise it. Then there were the children’s books that my ex-wife and I created. Another idea that once I got a hold of it, went from a crayon drawing on construction paper to a series of three printed, hard-cover children’s books that we won honorable mention at the NYC Book Festival. I’m a creative genius, right? If you saw my resume of accomplishments, you would wonder where I am hiding my millions. Again, this all happened on my good days.
You are probably reading this and thinking you wish you had all my good days, right!?
Trust me, NO, YOU DON’T WANT MY GOOD DAYS. Do whatever you can in your power to run the hell away from my good days. Lock yourself in a vault to stay the fuck away from my good days. Trust me, you’ll thank me later. Just ask my ex-wife, ex-girlfriends, friends, my sister, my mother, people who have put their trust and faith in me to work for, or with, me. Just ask people I have worked for, people I have rented a home or apartment from, credit card or finance companies, even my kids. Stay away from me at all costs, I will fuck you over, if I haven’t already.
Here’s the crazy part, if you asked people about me during my good days, you might hear things like I’m creative, attractive, intelligent, honest, full of integrity, successful, strong-willed, great father, stable and someone you want to be in business with. Shit, why write what I think you might hear, here are actual quotes people have said about me
“know him to be one of the best marketing professionals I have ever worked with. He's smart, talented and a very hard worker…Ryan is also fun to work with, which always makes the work easier”
“I would work with Ryan again and recommend him without reservation”
“professionalism and confidentiality were very impressive. Great resource for any business”
“added tremendous value to my practice. Add in the professionalism is a very wise choice”
“has made me a believer that I can get high quality…Great to work with… is extremely creative”
“able to provide leadership on developing a strong plan”
“always impressed by his analytical skills as well as his artistic sense….is an excellent marketing strategist”
“creativity and willingness to guide the committee was priceless”
So, wait, why would you want to avoid me at all costs? It sounds like you would want to do whatever you can to be around me?
What you most likely will hear if you ask anyone who I’ve ever worked with, rented from, lived with, been in a relationship with, married to (only once), been friends with and possibly lucky enough to still be friends with (at least lucky for me), trusted me, relied or depended on me, even my own mother, you will hear that I’m a liar, manipulator, a bull-shit artist, irresponsible, a scam artist, broke, impulsive, narcissistic, unstable, mentally ill, and I can go on, but I think you get the point.
How is this Fucking possible? It doesn’t even make sense. Am I just a great con-artist like Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can? Those of you reading this that are in the former group are probably thinking I’m exaggerating or there is some catch to this story, because that’s NOT the Ryan I know. Yes, it is, you just caught me on my good days.
If my good days are so good, what is a bad day? That’s a great question, and until very recently, I didn’t even know that I was having bad days. I thought my moods or actions were attributable to other peoples’ circumstances or actions at that time. My mood would change, and I would become upset or angry because of something YOU would say or do. It wasn’t my fault, it was yours.
“Why don’t you trust me?”
“I said I’ll do it!”
“You’re overreacting, it’s not that big a deal.”
“I’m just having a couple drinks, relax.”
“I’ll pay you back, I promise”
I’m sure the people who knew me on my bad days could contribute many more, and I’m sure if some of them are reading this, might be suffering PTSD. I was a real asshole.
A bad day turns into a bad week, then two weeks, a month and sometimes several months. It is truly crazy that during that period, I often lose everything. All the sudden, the business that I worked so hard to build becomes a nuisance instead of priority, daunting instead of passion, exhaustion takes over energy, smart decisions become dangerous behaviors. People close to me get pushed away, very far. The more they questioned what was wrong or bothering me, the more frustrated I got, and the more frustrated I got, the angrier I got. I was unbearable to be around. Unless you experienced this, you are probably thinking it’s probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be. Well you tell me.
In the last 6 months my relationship with my girlfriend ended and I was told to move out. My car was repossessed, I lost a job with a salary that I created for myself by seeking out the owner and giving her great ideas. I haven’t been able to pay child support for over 3 months, have spent every dollar I had in the bank, borrowed from my daughters, racked up over $6,000 in debt from my girlfriend who was supporting me, lost 20 lbs., missed the funeral of the father of the one friend who has stuck by me for over 25 years and have basically lied or embellished to others. In the last several months, I have been called a liar, calculating thief, user, and that I should be in jail for all I have taken. This is just what my ex-girlfriend had to say! Sounds harsh. Crazy thing is that I’ve heard most of this before, several times. I’ve heard these things going back 20 years! So why do I care this time? What is different now that I give a shit?
For some reason, this time the reality of suicide has been closer than ever before. This time, I have started forming a plan, and the part that makes me cry even right now, is that I started writing letters to the people important to me, the one’s that I have fucked over. My kids, my ex-wife, ex-girlfriend, buddy Phil, and some I would rather not name publicly. It’s about those I’ve hurt and that they understand that IT WAS MY FAULT.
I have reached out and apologized to a very select few, and one of the main reasons I need to share this is because as I’ve started to finally accept that I have an illness, there seems to be quite a bit of people that appreciate my owning it and taking steps to fix it, but don’t get it.
I am hearing things like, “you could have just stopped and told the truth” or “you could have controlled that, and it wouldn’t have gotten so bad.” I have even heard, “I get it, but if you were a little more responsible, you wouldn’t be in this situation constantly.”
YOU CLEARLY DON’T FUCKING GET IT AT ALL AND YOU NEVER WILL, NEVER.
I probably won’t ever have breast cancer and need a mastectomy, so for me to look you in the eyes and tell you I understand how you feel and can put myself in your place, is just absolute bullshit. I confided in one friend and he told me he doesn’t believe there can be a chemical imbalance in the brain and it’s just behavioral.
One of the most hurtful was,” I understand, and I think it’s great you are realizing it, but you really fucked me over. You ruined my life. You should be in jail. I hate you. I will never forgive you.” These are not words of true understanding, but “understanding to justify,” which is okay too. To justify what? That they loved me. They trusted me. They were screwed over by me, taken advantage of by me, etc. I have really made some very strong people feel humiliated and taken advantage of. I have really fucked up some great people and I can see how it’s frustrating, sad, disappointing and even, embarrassing to them.
A Bad Day Today
Let me try to explain the hell of just typing this. While typing these thoughts, one minute I’m so excited to get the words out of my mind and onto the screen, then I find myself staring out the window and thinking how much this sucks and I don’t have the energy or mind power to do this. Why the hell am I wasting time when I could just be staring out the window or the people sitting around me? How can I be responsible for helping Nicole support our three daughters when I can’t fucking write two sentences in over 8 hours! I can’t concentrate to do anything whatsoever.
It’s 8am on Sunday and today is the day I’m going to fix it all and start over. I am going to get the money that Nicole, my ex-wife needs to pay her rent that is over a month late. I wish I didn’t owe her so much in back child support, but that’s okay, today is the day to clear it all up!
This is how most of my days begin, I look at my ‘loser ass’ in the mirror and tell myself not to give up because today is going to be different.
Even right now, I don’t know what else to type, I think this is stupid and it doesn’t even fucking matter. Wait, now I just got excited and lots of new thoughts shot into my head, this is fun! “Shit, I have to help my ex pay her rent, I’m so far behind and today is the day!
I’ll just get a job. I can do that. With all my experience and connections, I can probably have a job by the end of the day. Wait, If I get a job, that might take more time than it would take to just reach out to my contacts and get a client for marketing work. Yeah, that would be easier, I’ll just do that! Maybe I should just spend more time getting ad sales for the magazine, that would probably be easy and would help get cash flow quickly. Yeah, that’s the answer. Is that a ‘help wanted’ sign across the street? Shit, I could get a job managing that office. I could probably turn that into the most successful office ever! I can show them all the small things they probably aren’t doing to bring new clients in and help them with retention. Look at that office setup, I could build that room out better and make it so much more inviting, which in turn would get them so many more clients! Let me look at their website. Oh man, I could rebuild this! I would add better images and work on telling their story as opposed to just having boring paragraphs telling what they do. Wait, what about having the owners do videos? Yes! I can record their videos and charge for that, and then I can set up blogs and a new website. I can reach out to other companies that would complement them and set up guest blogging! I should take over their social media too, then I can put new content on their website and share it via new social media outlets, and I can even manage it! Look at that logo, I need to have that redone too. We should make it look more like a bridge. Yes, a bridge would signify a path of change and they are actually near a bridge! This is perfect.
Maybe I can just get a job doing security somewhere. My resume and references from being a police officer would make that so easy. That’s what I’m going to do. I need money today to pay my child support, so maybe I should just borrow it so I can start with a clean slate. But who from? Is there anyone out there that I haven’t borrowed money from? Maybe I can just get a high interest loan online that I can get by tomorrow. Let me see what I can sell. I’ve already sold everything, literally everything. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING including all my furniture, kitchen items, televisions, bicycle, etc. I have nothing. Damn, it’s almost 11 am and I’ve gotten nothing done. Why can’t I think! Why can’t I just fucking think of something? I can usually always fucking fix it!!!
I am so tired, I am going to take a nap and when I get up, I can fix this. I think I give up. I need to just tell my girls that I am a failure and apologize. They should know that I am a piece of shit. Fuck it, if I wasn’t around, they would be so much better off. I bet my ex would get help paying her bills if I check out. People might care more and help her get caught up. One thing about my ex, I believe I have ruined her in so many ways.
Where would she be without 20 years of my bullshit? I always had to come first and job after job, career after career, she stood by me and put her dreams on hold thinking I would get there, and she would have a turn. Well, I fucking showed her.
The thoughts don’t stop! Imagine living with headphones on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Imagine that it’s not your favorite music or talk shows, but just hundreds of random people blurting out their thoughts, or phrases that don’t even make sense, and they are all being said or shouted at the same time. Different tones, volumes, some men, some women, some computer generated, babies screaming, then throw in some bits of music, a rock and roll rift, a classical piece, someone practicing on the drums, a bagpipe going off. With all this going on, then you hear the ocean waves, the crackling of a fireplace, a babbling brook. Each, and every sound is vying for your attention and you can’t stop it. So, you try to become numb to it. The problem is with the noises comes creativity and energy. For me, when there is a lot of noise, I just keep going and the creativeness and ideas are amazing. These are the good days.
I need to keep going with this great fucking idea I have, so I need energy and creativeness! I am going to make this work, it’s the best business idea ever and it’s going to make me rich! Drums, guitars, loud music, voices of all the people who need this product or idea, my voice, voices of people trying to get me to slow down. Other’s yelling, “FUCK THEM, keep going, you got this!”
Then it gets quiet, real quiet. That’s confusing. Where are the voices and noises? Why can’t I keep going and get this done? I’m tired now. Where are the damn noises? I can’t move without them. I can’t read a sentence or an email for that matter. I don’t feel like doing anything. I’ll do it tomorrow. I say that I’ll do it tomorrow for days, weeks and sometimes months. Sometimes it never gets done. Those are the friends and clients that I said I would do something for. Those are the things I told the kids I would get back to them about. Those are the payments I promised I would make to people I owe money to. Those are tasks that I promised I would complete for a new or client. Those are the things my kids knew in their hearts that I wasn't really going to do when it came time to.
The silence causes confusion, anger, frustration, sadness, depression, irritability and desperate, dark thoughts. “What the fuck is wrong with me? Why can’t I function? Why can’t I do anything anymore? “
It just gets darker and darker as each day goes by. Well since I can’t function and have lost the ability to function as a human being, I need something to numb this desolate feeling of despair and loss of self. My go to is alcohol.
If I feel nothing, I might as well feel nothing drunk!
My body and mind are numb during these “quiet days,” which means I need to make my own noise. Alcohol helps me make noise, at least that is how I feel at the time. Once drunk, then comes the bad decisions. Very bad decisions. I’m not sure why I make these decisions, as I know that it could lead to something bad, really bad. It doesn’t matter at that point; I can’t control it and that is what people can’t understand. At that time, it’s NOT a choice. It’s truly a viscous cycle, s the quietness and numbness take over my mind and body, the actions and decisions I make to create some form of noise or feeling lead to horrible regret, which immediately turn to more regret, despair and sadness. This only makes the silence more deafening and thus I need to try that much harder to create noise. More alcohol and other risky choices and behaviors. It’s a grueling cycle that includes many thoughts of the one sure way to end the noise and the silence, suicide.
When I am having bad days, I try so hard to fit in. It’s all a lie. God, how many times have I sat there with a “brave face” at a work function, family function or meeting? Sitting there with a smile and all I hear is the “waaaa waaaa” from the voice of the teacher on Charlie Brown. While I sit there with my bullshit smile on and my nodding of fake attentiveness, my head is quiet and full of nothing. I was probably thinking about what a loser I am or how I’m going to pay my 16-year-old back the $20 I owe her, or God, I wish I could afford a beer right now. Maybe even worse, especially when I’m listening to people I associate with, talk about someone’s poor financial decisions, like “we would never allow our situation to get like that!” Meanwhile, I’m that person. It’s a very strange feeling and I start to think my life is a house of cards. It’s such a dark place and sad.
This time is different because I had to realize what I had been told many times in my life. I have a chemical imbalance in the brain. It runs in my family, specifically, my grandfather on my mother’s side suffered from bipolar disorder and was a very abusive, depressed man. Even though I had been told this many times while growing up, I was never going to believe it. There isn’t anything wrong with me, that’s just bullshit. When I got kicked out by my girlfriend, I had nowhere to turn. I had burned every bridge, literally. I had borrowed from everyone and the well was tapped out. There was really no way I could continue to live. I didn’t want to. I’m not saying there was no reasons to live, because there are many reasons. This time, the reasons didn’t seem to outweigh the benefits of being gone. I reached out to my ex-wife and blatantly asked her if I was a narcissist and what the fuck was wrong with me. She said, “Ryan, like I have told you before, you are bipolar which leads to traits that create narcissistic behaviors. It’s a chemical imbalance and you need to not be ashamed of it and think of it as just being sick”
I needed help or it was time to leave the earth, for real this time. I called a good friend, Michelle who didn’t even need me to ask for help. As soon as I told her I got kicked out of the house, she knew. She had only known me for about two years, but knew me enough to say, “Can I ask you a question without you getting offended?” She then went on to ask me, “do you think you are bipolar?” My jaw dropped. Am I the only one who hasn’t thought I am bipolar? How the heck did she know? After we spoke a little more, she told me I am in a manic state (the bad days) and I need to go get help immediately. Not tomorrow, NOW.
This was hard to hear. I have always been strong and now I had to face the reality that I have a mental health problem? What does that mean, get help now? Like a hospital or psychiatric ward? I had to realize I am well past the stigma or perceived stigma anyway. I NEED HELP. I can’t do this anymore, it’s too exhausting. All the noise in my head, the deafening silence, the stealing and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, the having to lie to cover up the things I do when the bad days are here. I’m done, no more!
My ex-wife took me in, and I opened up to her and admitted that she was right, I am bipolar and can’t control myself. I told her I wanted to die. I told her I don’t have any money and can’t pay her child support. The next day, she dropped me off at an emergency psychiatric evaluation facility and even made me a bag lunch because I was most likely going to be there all day. It turned out I had to go back for following 3 days and had a thorough assessment. It was scary, embarrassing and I felt lonely. On the other hand, listening to the therapists explain behaviors that were so on point, I thought they were talking about me specifically. It was hours of listening to my exact behaviors. How did they know me that well? Easy, I am textbook bipolar and not alone. Best of all, I don’t have to live like this. There are options and treatments. There are people that have been where I am and have become what I want to be. I am not a lost soul, just lost.
I think about all the wasted time and money this sickness has caused me. All the jobs I’ve lost. All the opportunities and hard work I’ve lost or watched fail because I was having bad days. I don’t know my ending, but I’ll be writing it every day from here. I can only hope to apologize and receive forgiveness from those I’ve hurt. I can and will make good to those I’ve taken advantage of.
I am not writing this with a clinical background or having read lots of books and studies and trying to solve anything, the purpose is to not only help myself with a cathartic experience, but to help someone realize they are not alone, like I have just done. Maybe these behaviors or stories are similar because you are on the receiving end of someone like me.
As I started accepting that I am bipolar and started thinking about the things I have done, I couldn’t believe the thoughts in my head. It was like something you heard your best friend, mother or daughter say and immediately tell them they are dating a narcissist or psycho and they need to run!
So instead of being so ashamed or feeling so shitty and doing what I do so well and QUIT or AVOID, I decided to take a different approach and just type. Shut my mind off and just let the stories flow from my head and heart, to my fingers, to the keyboard and onto the screen. What is the purpose? If I have come to the reality of accepting that I am bipolar, why write about it? Why not just accept that it explains a lot about me, apologize, and move forward in a positive direction. That’s not good enough for me. I have fucked over so many people and burned so many bridges by not understanding the power of chemicals in the brain. Why did it take so long to figure it out? What if I hadn’t and left this earth? I hope someone reads this and asks for help. I hope someone reads this and says I know someone who needs help. I hope someone reads this and says they understand now and whether they choose to forgive or not, at least they will truly understand.
My life up to now has been like the movie Groundhog Day. It’s been 35 years of the same shit over and over, and no matter how hard I try to change the cycle, it always resets. ALWAYS.
Don’t forget, when the bad days are gone and the mania is not present, the good days are really good! Those are the times when business is good, money is good, bills are paid, money is in the bank and when I always tell myself and everyone that’s part of my life, “See, I told you I could do it. We are good now! The bad times are over, and we can be stable now!”
Then just like in Groundhog Day, the alarm goes off and suddenly it’s quiet again. Shit, here we go again!
Now that you have read my words, here are some of the things the therapists and doctors told me that made me think they had been following me my entire life, or that I was living the Truman Show, and my life was being watched by everyone, except me.
Here's the science stuff in case you're interested.
The main symptoms of bipolar disorder are alternating episodes of extreme euphoria, or mania, and major depression.
The fluctuations can be severe, but moods may be normal between the peaks and troughs.
The mood shifts involved in bipolar disorder are far more severe, debilitating, and incapacitating than those experienced by most people.
Mania or hypo mania
Hypo mania and mania refer to a "high" mood. Mania is the more severe form.
Symptoms can include:
· During a manic episode, a person may engage in risky behavior, such as spending excessive amounts of money.
· During a manic episode, a person may engage in risky behavior.
· impaired judgment
· feeling "wired"
· a sense of distraction or boredom
· missing work or school, or under-performing
· thinking they can "do anything"
· belief that nothing is wrong
· being extremely forthcoming, sometimes aggressively so
· likelihood of engaging in risky behavior
· a sense of being on top of the world, exhilarated, or euphoric
· excessive self-confidence, an inflated sense of self-esteem and self-importance
· excessive and rapid talking, pressurized speech that may jump from one topic to another
· "racing" thoughts that come and go quickly, and bizarre ideas that the person may act upon
· This may include squandering money, abusing illegal drugs or alcohol, and taking part in dangerous activities. A higher libido may lead to promiscuity.
During a depressive episode, the person may experience:
· a feeling of gloom, blackness, despair, and hopelessness
· extreme sadness
· insomnia and sleeping problems
· anxiety about trivial things
· pain or physical problems that do not respond to treatment
· guilt, and a feeling that everything that goes wrong or appears to be wrong is their fault
· changes in eating patterns, whether eating more or eating less
· weight loss or weight gain
· extreme tiredness, fatigue, and listlessness
· an inability to enjoy activities or interests that usually give pleasure
· low attention span and difficulty remembering
· irritation, possibly triggered by noises, smells, tight clothing, and other things that would usually be tolerated or ignored
· an inability to face going to work or school, possibly leading to under performance
In severe cases, the individual may think about ending their life, and they may act on those thoughts.
Medical News Today