Bipolar And BeyondIt was 1957 when I was born to my Polish mother and Irish German father in Washington D.C. All our relatives lived on the east coast. In 1959 my mother Catherine, and father Francis drove me and my older sister, Catherine Joann or Jann for short, across country to California where my Aunt Maryann and Uncle Ed had recently moved. My father had worked for the airlines and my mother made reservations for the airlines; that’s where they met in Washington D.C. Nonetheless, we moved to Inglewood, CA.
My childhood was happy and I excelled at my Catholic grammar school in academics and sports. My father continued to work in the cargo department at LAX and with his knowledge, in 1967, he started his own business taking care of animals that flew into and out of the airport. He kept them overnight in our kennel instead of the cargo terminal; feeding and watering them, cleaning their cages, and getting them back to their prospective airlines for their transfer. He rented a small garage under the runways on La Cienega Blvd.which was the kennel. It was grueling work starting a business from nothing.
It was 1969 when my father saw an advertisement for a caretaker needed for an abandoned 44 acre US missile site on Pershing drive/ a block from the ocean, and on the north side of the runways to LAX. Soon, we moved to the broken down missile site to live. We fixed it up to make it a living quarters and a kennel with an office at the front of the kennel. I was eleven years old at the time, my sister was thirteen, my two younger brothers were nine and four years old. My mom and dad bought us a pony to ride over the acreage which started our interest in horses.
It was 1970 when we decided to build a horse stable. My sister, brothers and I had been helping out in the kennel. With hired help we cleaned the kennels, and also the stables, and fed all the animals. We loved the animals! We each owned horses, too.
It was 1972 when my sister, with her drivers license, and I with my temporary license started delivering animals to and from the air cargo department at LAX. Also, I became a cheerleader at the Catholic high school we attended. I managed working at the family business, and cheering as a Junior Varsity cheerleader. My grades were excellent so I didn’t have a problem there.
It was 1973. We closed our stable down in order to open up a United States Department of Agriculture regulated horse quarantine. After closing our stable the business grew, which meant working longer hours. We imported and exported horses from other countries day and night.
It was 1974 when I made varsity cheerleader. In addition, this was when I dislocated my shoulder and had my first experience with depression. I was training one of the last horses from the stable to be sold when he yanked on the lunge line which was twisted around my hand. I had problems for several years to come after this initial accident. This is also the year I first experienced purple microdot LSD. A varsity cheerleader gave it to me at a party and I had a ball rolling on the floor with the cheerleaders and beach crowd. It was also the first time I heard whispering in my head. “Hello, anyone there?” I avoided the clatter in my head opting for sleep. The next day the usual noises were extremely amplified to me, for instance; phones ringing, the clicking of the clock, and airplanes overhead. Between cheerleading with an injured shoulder and the family business drama, I was truly melancholy by then. Soon I would self-medicate every day! Boy did I get high on pot and booze.
It was 1975 when I graduated from high school. I had taken a few hits of blotter acid and smoked weed continuously as well as drinking. Sometimes a beach bum would slip me some PCP in the joint, or give me pills and cocaine. I would black out drunk regularly and walk home from the beach house where the Friday night or Saturday party was, and I would climb the fence surrounding the missile site to my home. Then, I’d crawl in my window so nobody would know I was out all night. I was always caught and was continuously grounded.
The whispering went away and I had a pretty mellow time working for the family business after I finished high school and started college. I saved little money paying rent to my parents, and certainly not enough to move out, but I moved out anyway with two girlfriends who I partied with in high school.
It was 1977 when I moved to North County San Diego I attended Palomar College in San Marcos for commercial art while I worked at Happy Health Food Store. I studied herbs and made carrot juice, smoothies, and sandwiches for the patrons. Most of our surfer friends lived at the beach in Leucadia or Encinitas. I had a friend who took me to a party where we took blotter LSD. This time I lost it! I saw nothing except bright lights and Jesus in the sky, and I heard laughing in my head. I had voices in my head if I listened closely. They would tell me to “make love.” So I staggered over to my boyfriends’ place where he lived in his friends’ garage, and we made love. He was ten years older than I; my first real lover. I was twenty years old. I helped him put on a Save the Whales concert which he videotaped for San Diego University. We traveled a little together to San Francisco and Mexico but nothing came of our relationship. I wish it had. I really liked his hippie ways.
I was delusional, but I knew it. I studied many books written about LSD tripping and books about mental illness. Some of the books said the voices would tell the sick person to cut off their leg or do devious violent things to others, and sometimes they would believe the voices. The voices I heard mimicked my thoughts and always said to make love. When I was in Los Angeles I went to a unique book store in Manhattan Beach to find books that talked about taking LSD and making love to each others mind. I would buy candles and bongs there, too. I would read books about mind control that originated in the 50’s when the government experimented with LSD. I read books about the connection between human beings and the planet; animals, living plants, etc. I also read about Existentialism. I read about Philosophy. When I read these books the voices didn’t bother me, so I read a lot of books of that nature. I couldn’t repeat anything I read or any of the Philosophers but I do remember some of the information being very interesting, and I thought at this time it applied to me in an incredible way. In addition, I read about Yoga and chakras and the web of life encasing our bodies’ energy. I practiced yoga and modern dance, and I took classes in art at El Camino College in Redondo Beach after I moved back to Los Angeles.
It was 1980; I took myself to the Venice Beach mental health clinic because of audio hallucinations and bodily sensations like I was on speed. My mind was racing and I still couldn’t stop the voices. I recently had a shoulder operation and the doctor gave me penicillin which I found I was allergic to. The voices became more prominent at this time. The only time they stopped was when I partied; drinking and smoking weed and making love. Well, you can imagine how loose I was to make sure those voices went away. All I had to do was read, which became boring, stay stoned, or make love. I had non-stop dates and non-stop boyfriends and partying in between working. All the girlfriends I once partied with, who were very close to me, were nowhere to be found. Well, I wasn’t really looking for them since I worked two jobs and was dating and going to the YMCA all the time. I rode my bike to the club and swam laps before and after work. I worked at two veterinarian clinics as a receptionist and animal health technician, and I worked at my families business. I became anorexic because I was so manic and wired. I attended night school after work. I went to Santa Monica College and Woodbury University to study art. I took private lessons at Venice Paste Up and Layout Studio. Furthermore, I had many sexual partners and boyfriends at this time in my life. Sleeping wasn’t in my program. I was getting worse and the medicine from the clinic didn’t even work!
Finally, I decided to move out of the country, so I flew to Germany to be a nanny and horse handler. To keep my mind calm I walked for miles pushing a baby buggy with Fabian; a six month old. I found I was frightened of the big Warmblood horses, because of my accident, and my fear impinged on my opportunities to ride hunt seat at the stable just over the hill. Also, I was freezing in the apartment the German family set up for me over their horse stalls. I drank Pilsner and Schnapps often! It wasn’t too long before I was flying back to Los Angeles for the warmth.
After I returned, I got a job working for a restaurant bookkeeping service. In addition, I worked weekends at my families business picking up and delivering animals to and from the cargo terminal. I wasn’t on any medication at this time. It was 1981 when I got pregnant by an airline cargo handler who gave me Peruvian rock cocaine. He didn’t know it, but at the time I was having a manic episode and the coke he gave me made me an insomniac for several days. He and I didn’t stay together. We never meant to be together. We were both lonely and high; that was all. He eventually flew back to Peru.
It was 1982 and I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I was working seven days a week and ten hour days. I worked while my baby slept in a crib in my office. Nobody knew the father of my son so I screamed at night about a legendary rock and roll star, which was known for his LSD use. I shouted that he wouldn’t leave my mind and my baby alone. Soon it came to pass that I ended up yelling about a man named Joe. I was with a man named Joe when I was sexual, and I thought he was following me. He was on cocaine in a bar when it was closing, and after work one night I went with him to his Manhattan Beach apartment. I felt attached to Joe in my mind…… so I thought/ I was so mentally ill, and between my baby crying with colic, my audio hallucinations, and my anxiety, including insomnia, I started to cry at night a lot! Soon, I quit my newest job at USDA as an animal technician on the night shift. And, I continued to work for my families business during the day. Also, I got another job part time working for a CPA as a bookkeeper. I never slept; ever!
It was 1987. I had moved several times with my son, who was five years old at this time. We ended up at the family business where we made a home in one of the barracks. My family was very helpful with my son. I went to Focus Unit Drug Rehab in Marina Del Rey to quit drinking. And a year later, in 1988, I went to a dual diagnosis center in Brentwood for bipolar and alcohol abuse.
It was 1989 when my psychiatrist, I saw several psychiatrists for antipsychotic medicine and sleeping pills since 1978, wrote me up for SSI disability. I needed money for me and my son after I quit working the long hours. Children are expensive. So is mental illness. It seems that if you work for fourteen years or more, you are allowed to get SSI disability and Medicare. Medicine for mental illness, not to mention the monthly psychiatrist fee, is very costly. You need a recommendation from a psychiatrist who fills out all the paperwork and assures the system the patient will be continuously treated for their ailment.
In 1989 I married a man whom I knew for one year. I immediately got pregnant with my second son. I still screamed at the voices and my so-called connection to what I thought were people against me. Anyway, I kept working part time in spite of everybody saying I was “crazy.” I knew I was crazy, but I was doing everything I could for the disease: bipolar, which was diagnosed in 1988. I took medication daily, but not enough to settle the anxiety and hallucinations, so I continued to drink alcohol.
It was 1990 when my husband, two sons, and I moved to Palmdale CA. Things got out of hand because my husband liked to choke me and back hand me when we drank. The police came to our house several times. I was found crying while holding a knife in my hand to protect myself from my husband. I turned to alcohol and shutting myself off from him from then on. It was 1994 when my husband decided he didn’t want to work anymore, shortly after I gave birth to my third child; a little girl.
It was 1997 when we foreclosed on our house and things between me and my husband were still in turmoil. Also, I had voices telling me that Joe was on coke and acid and wanted to beat me up like my husband did. The voices became frightening and derogatory. They mimicked my low self-esteem. I couldn’t do anything but suffer in my mental powerlessness at that time. I was given no additional medication for my disorder.
So many things had happened between 1998 and 2003. I would dance and sing and shout with my music blasting while I cleaned the house. Unbelievably, I was still married. We lived in a broken down ranch house in the hills overlooking Palmdale. Surprisingly I got out of the house and made a few girlfriends who I could truly talk to. I had a new psychiatrist who didn’t give me the right medicine in spite of me telling him that I was overly anxious and frightened of my husband and people in general. In spite of everything going on, I volunteered at my children’s schools. Also, I went back to school and studied computers at the Multimedia Institute. My husband stayed home most of each year without working or going anywhere. He would harass me for sex, and he’d get mad at me for his depression. Oddly, his mother was also bipolar. I avoided him by learning how to write poetry for online contests. I wrote a poetry book called Avoiding Confrontations by Writing Poetry. Also, I had an organic garden which I spent many hours laboring in while the kids were in school. And I never quit exercising. I would free my mind by hiking and mountain biking in the desert hills. Then, in the summer I would take the kids and their friends swimming at the local pool.
One terrible time was when my husband threatened me with a gun, and the second time he did it I drank beer and screamed at him to give me my keys to the car. I had a butter knife in my hand when I yelled at him. He called the police and I ended up in the psyche ward at the hospital. I was given several different medicines which dulled my senses but did little to alleviate the panic attacks. Unfortunately, I never got the medicine I needed. I hadn’t had a full medical exam in years.
After I got out of the psyche ward, we fought relentlessly. My sons and my husband constantly fought. My husband reprimanded my sons tirelessly punching their heads and locking them out of the house. My children fought with each other. Druggies came up to the hill where we lived and partied and screamed all night long outside our house. They also broke into several houses. We always called the police but they said it wasn’t their jurisdiction. My husband walked around with a loaded pistol. It was wild and terrifying at that time living in the Palmdale hills!
It was 2003 when I went mad one day. I cooked the last of the food in the house; meatloaf and a pork butt. I tried to get money off my credit cards, in order to get my bipolar medicine, to no avail. Moreover, I had a vaginal infection. We were all tapped out except for my husbands’ pay check which I knew he wouldn’t share. When my children came home from school, I had a butcher knife in my hand. I screamed at them and chased them out of the house. I went to jail for 28 days, and when I got out I received antibiotics, antipsychotic medicine, plus sleeping pills. My mother was my hero and she’s the one who got me out of jail. My mother and I left Palmdale, California after I filed for divorce. We drove back to Kansas City where my mother and sister lived. My cousins and aunts live there too. My oldest son was over 18 years, so he went to live with his friends in Lancaster, California. My two youngest children; 13 and 8 years old, went to live with their father and grandma and grandpa in Denver, Colorado. I haven’t seen them since.
It was 2004 when I started attending two years of battering counseling, therapy for being abused by my husband, psychoanalysis by a psychologist for PTSD, and a psychiatrist for bipolar medicine. After three years I was off probation. In 2007 I put myself in the Shawnee Mission Hospital psyche ward because I had a manic episode while attending Avila University where I was working towards a degree in art therapy. I lived with my mother at the time. Then, I found a new psychiatrist. He gave me better medicine, but I’d slip up and self medicate for the loss of never again seeing my two youngest children. It wasn’t until 2008 that I truly got sober. I don’t know what happened. I just kept praying to Jesus.
Soon after my rebirth, my sister needed roommates for her new house, and my mother was paying a lot of money for her house. So, we went to live with my sister in her larger house and pay shares. I see a psychiatrist once every other month, and I am on anti-psychotic meds which are designed to alleviate hallucinations, and two kinds of the best medications on the market for depression, including anti-anxiety meds for panic attacks. I also take high blood pressure medication and high cholesterol medication. After I had a full hysterectomy in 2005, I started taking hormones. I also take medication to stop my bladder from leaking ever since the doctor placed a mesh sling for my urinary tract.
I am 55 and I’ve spent a long time looking at myself knowing clearly how abnormal my bipolar behavior was. I can seriously and honestly say that this disease has caused a disturbance in my being that has been painfully depreciative and debilitating, and it hasn’t only hurt me. It has hurt my loved ones too! I can only pray and believe in Jesus that my soul is saved by my faith. And, I realize now that the past is behind me whether I see my children or not. Although I will never be perfect, I am far different inside than the woman who first heard whisperings and became manic overnight after ingesting LSD. I would say that although my disease isn’t entirely to blame on illicit hallucinatory drugs, it’s not a good idea to experiment. Bipolar runs in my family and I know several relatives who are afflicted with this malignant illness.
In 2010, I started painting and drawing seriously, and reading full time, and I forgave myself for everything I had done to my family and friends. In 2012, at 55 yrs old I wrote a bucket list to work on my self esteem, a weight loss of 10 lbs a year for ten years, painting four series of fifty paintings each of flowers, ocean scenes, landscapes with clouds, and still life. I also planned on reading all the books from several authors I am fond of, and I am making a library of them for my children.
Hopefully in 2022, when I receive a retirement because of my divorce, I will travel, make a web page to sell prints of my artwork, take painting classes at seminars, publish the bipolar art that I have drawn, and make slides of my artwork for galleries.
KICK THE BUCKET LIST:
1. Paint at least 800 paintings and drawings by the time I’m 65 yrs old; 2022! And make slides of all artwork!
2. Paint in acrylic a series of 50 ocean scenes, 50 flowers, 50 still life, 50 landscapes with clouds, & 50 sunsets, etc. by 2022!
3. Make a web page of my paintings and sell prints & cards by 2025.
4. Travel on the special Canada train from east to west with the Johnson County 50 plus group.
5. Travel to take painting classes from the artists’ seminars in Taos, New Mexico and Oklahoma City.
6. Travel to Europe and tour the museums; Tuscany: Italy, Greece, and France, with the 50 plus group.
7. Lose 100 pounds by the time I’m 65. 10 lbs a year! Quit smoking!
8. Finish my BA degree in liberal arts ONLINE at 65 years old after loans are terminated.
9. Publish an art therapy book for people with bipolar disorder.
10. Travel to Australia/New Zealand in my 60’s with 50 plus group.
11. Save $5,000.00 to leave to Chris, my first born, after my death.
12. Travel to Alaska, the U.S. National Parks, and Hawaii with 50 plus group from Kansas City.
Books will be distributed by Chris. All art work will be sold / distributed by Christopher, my oldest, to family members.
I don’t want any artificial means to keep me alive.
Victoria Jane Hasenauer (this is the acknowledgment of a bipolar artist)