No Post Day: The Last Healthy Summer


“Montréal”; Ariane Moffatt
Let me know if the YouTube isn’t available.


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Once again here I am totally ripping off an idea from Anita Marie — who must be getting tired of being dragged into these things by now — and having a No Post Day. I’m just posting this YouTube about going home to Montreal, then I’m going to listen to Tom Waits with the volume jacked and pour aspartame directly into my brain while guiding Carl Johnson on a five-star killing spree across San Andreas until my eyes bleed pixels. Ah, No Post Day… truly You are bliss.

The last couple of posts I’ve written were about the last summer I was free of the symptoms of manic depression. It was 1987 and I was seventeen… I woke up at a reasonable hour, I had no problem falling to sleep at night, I was happy and healthy and had fun. I played basketball and soccer everyday, and four days a week I taught archery and canoing to youngish kids. I was active and I could think and not once, not one time, did I think about killing myself.

So if you’re willing to take the time, my question is:

What are your favourite memories from the summer before the symptoms of manic depression started?*

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*I’ve modified the question slightly, it was a little awkward… but as I was half-baked on The Aspartame when I wrote this post I’m lucky every other sentence isn’t “D*%& c#@ @9nfn toast oi3i48 kn irjithinn qkknrn”. Pretty soon I’m going to find out if I can smoke this stuff.

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…since november fourteenth, 2006.

“You burn things when there’s no going back. How much of
yourself have you had to burn away to be
the person you are today? Because baby, my body
is ash and my mind is still smoking.”

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, No Post Day. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to No Post Day: The Last Healthy Summer

  1. thordora says:

    I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to harm myself, except maybe when I was a kid. But then, my mother was sick from the time I was 6 or 7, so summers were…odd.

    I guess my favorite memory is very old-walking the St. Lawrence in the early morning with my father-the quiet, the peacefulness of the lapping waves, the shining sun on the water. Feeling safe and secure with my father. Spitting on the metal girders to hear it sizzle in the sun.

    Man. It’s been a long time since I’ve just felt at peace. I envy you that summer.

  2. Gabriel... says:

    So do I… it’s been weird writing about it, the experiences I had that summer were like proof that I was normal. I had been so…blah, introverted and awkward around people for so long, then there was this two week experience as a camper with Juliette, then a year or two later there was this summer as a counsellor. I went to Camp with serious clinical depressions, but after I came back to the Real World I was confident and capable… really weird timing.

    Thanks for leaving your memory, I appreciate how hard it is to remember this kind of stuff.

  3. Normal? Normal summer? Qu’est-ce que c’est normal summer?

  4. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks so much for coming by again, Marie.

    There has to be one good memory before the manic depression symptoms started… the summer of 1987, as I see it now, was a moment between my clinical depressions and the manic depression where the clinical ones didn’t apply, and the Bipolar hadn’t taken hold.

    I don’t expect Us to have had Normal or even Depression Free summers or even days, what I’m really asking about is the actual line we crossed from one to the other, but to make it a little easier I’m just looking for a favourite memory from Before.

  5. brilliance says:

    Well, I was fine. Then I saw that owl picture and now I suppose I am deranged. Thanks, Gabriel!

  6. Gabriel... says:

    Later on we found out the owl was being controlled by that wooden head beside it, but by then it was too late… it’s true though, Snowy Owls are responsible for more cases of manic depression than all other owl species combined.

  7. nursemyra says:

    I can’t comment on the manic depression / summer question.

    but I do like your happy choice of music for the day

  8. Gabriel... says:

    Ariane Moffatt… isn’t she great? There’s been a decade long cultural explosion in Quebec with all kinds of fantastic young Quebecois pop, punk and rap artists getting out there.

    Unfortunately, because of the language barrier, their music rarely gets heard outside of Quebec and maybe France, but that’s still pretty rare. France-French gets some play in Quebec, but going the other way is still a long shot. It’s like English Canadian music getting on the radio in America or Britain, sure Celine Dion and the Barenaked Ladies might get some play, but those markets have their way too much of their own music to fill the radio hours.

  9. exactscience says:

    Two summers spring to mind. One right at the start of my first episode and the other in between episode.
    Summer 03, I am between high school and uni so it seemed to last forever. I spent the first half spending days in coffee houses with my girlfriend and other friends nursing lattes and getting baristas on side so we didn’t have to pay corkage on the few occasions we brought wine. It was relaxed. J was the first to get depressed and I followed soon after the relationship died but we both loved one another and tried to keep it up. My mood was bouyed by a summer mission I was on. We spent 16 hours a day together so it was inevitable that some friendships be forged and existing one strengthened. Those friendship made the following months easier and a couple of them saved my life but for that week and the month after is was just spending time with really cool people and the girl I still loved.
    Summer 05. Brooklyn. I spent a week with a friend and his wife. It was the first time I wore short sleeves in public for five years. Noone asked or looked so this made me feel normal. I had come out of a depression two months prior but no manic kicked in. Whilst there I had my hair cut, went to a bible group, babysat, wandered around central park and the met, helped out at a bookfair and went to the top of the ESB. I also taught americans the offside rule in soccer when playing five a side at a church picnic and invited a girl I didn’t know-but who wanted to go to CBGB’s to join us and she did. This all happened over a week and I didn’t feel manic just happy. I had at least 4 great meals, met countless cool people, I am still in touch with the girl, and spent almost the whole week with one of my best friends. A special man indeed he cuts through my crap quickly but also makes me feel sane.
    So there they are. Two points before or between episodes when I was on top of things and spending lots of time with great people- those points felt like the crazy just tipped out of me.

  10. I’m kind of like thordora up there. I mean, there might have been some kind of brief “thing” but there was always a crash and burn.

    And I was one messed up little kid. Now you mention specifically “Manic Depression” and although I wasn’t diagnosed (well that came much later) but let’s just say symptomatic (oh dear…) okay “officially” until my 20s…

    Well, again–I was one messed up little kid. And with my nutcase mother creating complete “Hell Home…”

    When she left, nothing good during teen years.

    Happy? Happy Summer? Happy Anytime?

    I know…that sounds just awful, doesn’t it?

    Life was just too chaotic and you didn’t know when the next freight train was coming. So yes, I guess there were some fleeting things but I can’t recall anything specific that made me really thrilled.

    Okay wait. Got it after sitting here for a bit. I don’t know if this counts as I was depressed as all get out as a wee one and suicidal in my teens but if that’s forgivable, my first serious boyfriend (post coming out obviously) took me to the UK for three weeks. It was like a fairytale.

    I was in my final year of high school and the main reason for heading over was for a very formal affair in London (I mean, white tie and tails for men, gowns for women.) After that, we just toured around for the remainder of our time. And of course with me still being in school, I didn’t pay for a thing–well, I think a dinner and a hotel in Edinburgh or Glasgow or something.

    So, okay. That’s definitely a good one before I lost my mind completely in my early 20s. I took this trip with him when I was 19–he was several years older…and obviously had cash.

  11. Anita Marie says:

    Gabriel you’ve made ” No Post Day ” your own…plus I’m enjoying seeing someone else do…or not do well- you get my point.

    I used to have problems with depression- the funny thing is my favorite Summers happened after I felt better.

    Before it got bad I’d have to say the feeling is I remember that the sun seemed brighter.

    Never have figured that one out.

    anita marie

  12. Gabriel... says:

    Props given where they’re deserved, Anita Marie. I think I’ll end up trademarking the idea, but I’ll make sure you’re in for 20%.

    About the “good memory before bipolar symptoms” thing… and I think I’m changing this post in my head every time I think about it, so right now I’m thinking about how lost we can get when all we have is the Depressions and then the Manics and we never really spend anytime in the middle. Manics are not about Joy or Happiness, so when we’re untreated we very rarely actually get to experience those emotions. Now that I have started treatment and have become medicated it has become easier for me to think of, or be reminded of, the ‘real’ Joyous moments during the 18 years before I had manic depression. And it’s not like there were a whole lot of them, but we all do have a couple, and I think we forget about them after suffering through thousands of days of consecutive depressions because, mostly, the good memories cause us more pain than the bad ones.

    Thinking, or being reminded of those moments while was I was untreated and unmedicated almost seemed like a threat. Like, to be reminded of the times without manic depression only seemed to cause more depressions and resentment.

    I wrote this a little while back, and I used it in a post last week… as much as I hate quoting myself, I think it’s appropriate for how I’m interpreting this post tonight:

    “I’ve lost every game of Russian Roulette I’ve ever played. Lost for so long I can’t remember winning… if I could I’d never get up. Because the only thing worse than losing everything, is remembering what it’s like to win.”

    Thanks a lot for posting your memories Scott and PatAnon, they are very much appreciated.

  13. Bryan says:

    Lord, searching for what could be called good memories are obscure with me at best. It’s difficult for me to comprehend at times what would make a memory good or not because so many of the times that were good in my life were always marred by something that effected me terribly.

    But if I can muster one set of times it would have to be when I was 16. I actually had friends and I didn’t mind being around people. I had parties with 60-70 people at my house and would cook out, play loud music, and it was a time when I dated a bunch of different girls.

    There were a lot of stressful and bad things that were going on in my life, as there always had been, but it seems that for the most part, socially I was able to handle things better than I have in a long time. Then we go back to for everything that was good there were “the bad things” that counter it. My brother has psychomotive retardation and cerebral palsy. My folks were divorced and my mother was hurt bad enough that she couldn’t work anymore so most of my meager paychecks were going to help with things around the house, I was starting to cut school really heavy and started doing really stupid things that got me in trouble with the law. These are just a few of the blurbs about what I was kind of like as a teenager though it doesn’t tell the full story and I don’t know if I will ever be able to.

    But how I would even go about qualifying the good times in life is still to a large extent beyond my grasp. The events are just really too hard for me to separate. It’s all a big grey area and if it’s not black or white I just don’t deal with it as well.

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