EPI 2: Bipolar: WKNY Interview Part One
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Welcome to the Bipolar Excellence Podcast Episode Two, the WKNY Interview Part One.
I got interviewed on a radio station years ago. That made it to a different podcast I used to run. Some years had gone by, many years since I had made the radio interview. And I explained what had changed in the years since, on that old podcast.
So just for clarification, I’m just leaving all that as is. And now we’re on this new podcast. So you got this brief little intro, just so you’re not baffled all to hell. You’ll hear the sound quality change. You’ll know that’s when you’re on the old episode. And I’ll let that thing speak for itself.
Original Review Starts Here
My WKNY Interview, the first one. So a little over nine years ago, I had my first interview on radio. I get interviewed in this little station by an older lady, probably World War II era lady. She’d interviewed a million people.
She was fantastic! Jodie McTaggart. She had read my book. I don’t remember how I got the interview, but she had read the book, apparently exhaustively, because when I met her, she had her copy of my book in her hand.
And it was actually jam packed with post-it notes and pieces of paper on all three sides. Stuff was sticking out of it everywhere.
The thing looked like it had been sent through a washer. It was all beat up. I never saw anybody do that to my book. So I knew she was going to have a lot of questions and she did.
It was interesting because it sort of felt like she was mothering me here or there, because, I believe, there’s what got said in the interview and then even beforehand, and after. And it just was upsetting to her to read about the painful parts of the book.
And she just felt like, I don’t know, a sense of caring towards me because of that. She was also shocked to hear about how my life was in the Marine Corps, because it was not the poster.
People that aren’t in the military or not associated to it, particularly to Marines, all they know is the commercials. And maybe some movies. They have an assumption of what life is like, how Marines act .And, largely, it’s a correct picture.
And then not so largely are guys like myself and my friends, everybody who’s as nuts as we were in the Marines to a certain degree, but we took it to an art form.
And she was trying to come to grips with that but not really in a negative way. She was just really interested and curious and trying to settle some questions in her mind that my book brought up. So it was an interesting interview.
The reason I’m putting these interviews up is because I want people to hear where my head was at just a couple of years after the point from which I felt I had fully walked away from bipolar. I had my mind, not only under control but actually doing well.
I wanted you guys to hear what a person sounds like not that much longer after that point has been reached. Because while I was sick, it was madness.
What the medications, the doctors were giving to me created nothing but more madness and a whole bunch of other physical health problems as well. All of which went away when I stopped taking all these meds, they were giving me.
So for now, let’s get you into the interview and make of it what you will.
Interview Starts Here
Bud: Good morning, everyone. It’s nine minutes after nine o’clock on your Saturday morning. And welcome to speak out with Jody McTaggart and friends, the program you get a chance to call us and speak out what’s on your mind. And now on this Saturday morning, here’s the host to speak out Jodi McNeil.
Jody: Thank you very much, Bud Fredericks.
And as I said, make sure you have your finger on the bleep buttons, because I have a very wonderful gentleman sitting here this morning. Very courageous young man. He could be my son if you know, with your age, it’d be fine for me. I’d know how to knock your block off.
With us this morning, we have a gentleman he’s a, I never say an ex Marine, a former Marine.
Ken: I’m a former Marine. It just seems to confuse many people that are familiar with what being a Marine is all about. I kind of did that to simplify it for them.
Jody: And your name is Ken Jensen. You live in Tillson. You went to high school in Kingston high and you have beat the bipolar disorder. What a statement! Did you make that statement with the permission of your psychiatrist? Or did you know that you beat bipolar?
Ken: No, my psychiatrist couldn’t be happier that I’ve achieved what I did, but being that I did everything against his wishes to pull it off, he can’t vouch for it.
He’s just simply happy for me in the background and we’re good friends. And he helped me learn a lot about what led me to a lot of the forms of help that I found. He helped shaped a lot of my thinking.
Jody: Your book is spellbinding. Now, were you a good boy in high school?
Jody: Before you became a man where you were a good boy.
Ken: No. I was not, I was a, one of the kids that hung out on the wall that kind of puts you in a category all by itself.
Jody: Oh yes, you were. We hated to pass there because you always had something nasty to say.
Ken: Or I would be drinking and skipping class, drinking and sitting in the little valley behind Kingston hospital (there’s now a parking lot.) Stuff like that. I had no interest in school. I was smart enough that I could just show up and pass tests and didn’t have to work really hard. It just upset me to be there.
Jody: But you did graduate.
Ken: Yes, I did.
Jody: And what happened after that when you were on your own? What was life like after that? Because when I was reading this book, It Takes Guts To Be Me. You attempted to get rid of yourself a couple of times. And you didn’t know you were doing it all the time with the life you were leading and what helped you bring it all into perspective?
Ken: Well, when I got out of high school you know, I grew up in Tillson. This was back in the mid eighties. There was nothing going on. I had no money. I had no car. I had no future. And you’re kind of stuck halfway between New Paltz and Kingston. You can’t even go hang out with anybody or doing much of anything.
Jody: Tell me, did you ever have any kind of after-school job or were you limited because of no car and stuff like that?
Ken: I worked for a little while at Pizza Hut in Kingston. And then I worked for maybe about a year at Iron Mountain, the facility in Rosendale, where I basically was a warehouse worker. I just carried about a million boxes a year and put them on trucks or stock them on shelves.
10:00 Min Mark
And then after that, I was about 16 or 17. I was coming up towards the end of high school. And I was already a severe alcoholic. I’d already been in one coma.
Jody: Now, how did you get the alcohol? I said, “I have to ask him that question because alcohol costs five, six bucks and I knew you weren’t working.” So where did the alcohol come from?
Ken: Good question. Hard to say. If I could swipe money in some fashion, I would. Sometimes I’d beg it from friends and I did make a little bit of money from work and it didn’t cost all that much back then.
Or there were a lot of parties. There was always the older kids hanging out in the woods, having parties. You just chip in your five bucks and there was a keg party with a tire burning on a stack of wood, somewhere kind of a thing. It wasn’t hard really to get the alcohol.
Jody: Oh boy. That’s, that’s tough to hear because you know, this, the problem still exists today, alcohol and drugs.
Ken: Yeah, it was hard because I grew up with it. It was throughout pretty much my family tree on both sides of the family. It was like a normal progression. I was raised in it. There were always big parties, big family cookouts, tons and tons of beer.
It just was part of my life. I didn’t realize probably until after I quit, how I had been trained right into it. Not directly but it just seemed like a normal progression to me.
Jody: “I was miserable for months. I had no joy in me. I could laugh at comedies, but it wasn’t a lasting effect. It was a double whammy because although I was happy to be a free man, again, it felt as if I’d lost my protector status and been thrown back into the herd. Stripped of my honor. And that’s just how it was.”
This is a very powerful statement and when you think of that, it makes you want to choke inside.
Ken: I had a hard time being in the Marines, being the kind of person I was. I figured out years later that I was an artist, a creative type. It took a whole different kind of world to keep me happy and productive. And the Marines didn’t fit that bill for me.
But to be a Marine is an extreme honor. I’ll make that very clear right now. I only get prouder the older I get. And my Marine friends I’m still in touch with, and the Marines I meet in town… it all means more to me, the older and older I get. But when you first get out…
Jody: That’s what you wish for your son. Semper Fi.
Ken: Yeah I would like my son to do whatever he wants to do in his life that makes him happy. I don’t really care. I don’t care at all. But if he becomes a Marine, my eyeballs will probably pop right out of my head with pride. I half live for that moment. I just don’t want to push him into anything he doesn’t want to do.
Jody: So. All right, let’s go back to, we get out of high school.
Ken: Okay. Yeah. When I got out of high school, I was already a pretty well-practiced alcoholic. My parents saw the writing on the wall. There was no future to be had in town or even in this area. So my dad said pick a new hobby or pick a new home. He used those words.
He said he was in the Army and he didn’t want me going in the Army for a number of reasons. He didn’t like the Navy, so I wasn’t allowed to go in the Navy.
So, he said, pick easy or hard, the Air Force or the Marines.
So I picked easy. I tried to get in the Air Force but we could never seem to meet with a recruiter. And then I ended up joining the Marines, more or less out of spite and to see if I could hack it.
Jody: And because I’ve read the book I know you hacked it. And the things that you write in here, I found unbelievable.
Ken: It’s unbelievable to me. There’s a lot of times I look back and if it hadn’t been me doing it, I wouldn’t believe you telling it to me. And the book is a very light dusting. It’s a tiny fraction of all the adventures or misadventures that took place for me in the Marines. I couldn’t write everything in there cause that wasn’t…
Jody: Ken! Every time I see a Marine or used to see a Marine, because I remember the young people going to the Second World War when I was a child, and if you went into the Marines… I remember to this day, Bobby Griffin, what a wonderful young man he was. And all the girls who were that age, when he would come home, he was the man of the hour. And I always thought that they were par excellence.
Ken: Well, the Marines are par excellence. That’s our whole thing. We do more with less and we look better doing it. And it’s a requirement whenever we get told to do something.
There’s no question of whether or not we’re going to do it. We’re going to do it. We might not have what we need. We frequently didn’t have what we need. A lot of times our bare hands took the place of what should have been power equipment. Cause we just got the job done.
My job in particular, I had pretty much a construction worker sort of job. And I did heavy duty industrial electrical work and we just worked very, very hard. My job in the Marines was a.. We were a place people got put, due to a technicality. We did not exist in the big book. There’s an actual book. We, our job was not in it. We didn’t exist.
Jody: Explain that to the public because I found some of the things I said, “I hope he can clarify these things.” And you’re doing it quite well. Go ahead.
Ken: Thank you. Well, there’s a big book and it literally lists all the jobs there are in the Marine Corps. I wasn’t a grunt. I was in the air wing. But we weren’t listed in that book. So by default, nobody ever got slotted to go to my job, but my job was highly important.
We worked with the avionics people. We took care of their houses. They worked inside these containers. Our job was very manual labor and mixed with a lot of heavy duty technical work mixed with a lot of logistical work.
A lot of my projects are spread out over many acres and many miles involving planes, ships, trucks, cranes, all kinds of weird, heavy equipment we used to move these containers. You name it.
To get the amount of bodies we needed to move the thousands and thousands of pieces equipment we had, we needed people on loan from other shops. No shop would ever send their good guys to us. They’re not going to, they want to keep them for themselves.
So we got all the champions. Everyone in my shop was there because they got caught doing drugs. They drank too much. They fought all the time or they just wouldn’t listen to orders. That could be anywhere from four to 25 guys with that kind of an attitude. We were like a biker gang inside the Marine Corps.
Jody: Were you in charge of these fellows when they were sent to you or were you one of them? And we all get this done together,
Ken: Both. There were two parts to how my existence in the Marine was, especially in this shop. This shop, I got to say, we were unique unto most of the Marine Corps.
I doubt you would find much anything like what we were. Everyone in my shop for the most part was highly intelligent and, and we worked very hard and we were very proud of what we did.
Our job covered so many areas. It couldn’t be taught. You how to follow behind us to see how to do it all. And if we didn’t do it, nobody was going to get it all done. Somebody could do any part of it, but not the whole thing together.
And we were very proud of what we did. And being in the air wing… the air wing is more of a cushier situation than the grunts.
And we were like right in the middle. We did construction work. We were in the air wing, but we got sunburn. We froze all winter long. We broke our backs. We got electrocuted, burned, cut and we were always in pain from our job.
Most of the rest of the air wing was not. So we, we viewed ourselves apart from them. And the grunts seemed to like us a little better than the rest of the air wing.
Jody: Tell me when you were electrocuted, as you say, you’ve got a good jolt. How did that affect you mentally?
Ken: Geez I don’t know. When I was younger and learning the job, the hard way, a lot of what we learned, like I said, nobody taught it to you. They got taught a little tiny bit maybe, but then you just figured the rest out. I took a number of 30 amp and 40 amp hits.
I got locked into a few circuits once or twice where I could not let go. The circuit grabbed me and I couldn’t let go until somebody knocked my arm free. And I had to knock friends free too.
We were young. In the Marines you’re of course indestructible. So you’re like doubly indestructible. And getting electrocuted? It was just part of the day. We’d be mad and everything and try to learn from it. But didn’t really think much of it.
Jody: When you became part of the Marines, where did you go first?
Ken: I went to Parris Island.
Ken: Parris Island, in a lot of ways was the easiest part of the Marine Corps for me. Cause I was like a gazelle. I was 18. I weighed like 150 pounds soaking wet.
Jody: And how tall were you? That’s important.
Ken: About five 11.
Jody: I thought you were six foot when you got out of the car today.
Ken: Thick shoes!
So the, physical parts of bootcamp were a snap to me. Cause I grew up… regardless of anything else I did I used to love being in the woods, snowmobile, motorcycle and hiking, swimming. I could not use my body enough.
And I graduated in the top 10% of my platoon out about, I guess, 70 guys. And the head games they play on you, which are pretty unbelievable to the people that have not been through the Marines.
It’s hard to describe. You actually get used to it in about a month or so. And it’s quite bizarre stuff to relate.
Jody: It’s in the book. What you’re talking about?
Ken: Not too much about bootcamp, cause that’s like that that’s a whole world unto itself. I have about a hundred stories just from there alone that would blow people’s minds. But that wasn’t the point of the book either.
20:00 Min Mark
My problem began after bootcamp. When I graduated from bootcamp, there was a sense to me, like I made it, I’m done. I never gave any thought to the rest of my five-year contract. I really seriously didn’t.
When I got to my first base, which was Memphis, Millington outside of Memphis, I had an epiphany, my very first epiphany. I was walking to the E-Club, the enlisted man’s club. In Tennessee at the time you could be 18 and legally drink if you were a military personnel.
I was walking into the club and I had a sudden realization. It was like the sky cracked open and poured liquid lead on top of me and all my air got cut off. When it dawned on me, I had four and three-quarter more years of this Marine Corps stuff to go.
And in Memphis, we called it fourth phase bootcamp. They don’t treat you like a Marine yet. You’re still just a kid. You don’t really have any rights. You’re not treated like a man. You’re just told what to do when you get given a lot of things to do that are just useless.
They just keep you busy. And that frustrated me to no end. And I thought that was going to be my whole time in the Marines.
So I knew right then and there… I almost can remember the feeling. Something in me cracked. I say to people I’d have been better off if I could have been in a war the whole time.
And I don’t say that lightly. I was in the Gulf War and that’s not as severe of an experience as what the guys are going through now.
But you got to keep in mind, I was already not a normal person. I was not even a normal Marine. And if I’d had a war I’d at least been kept busy. And I’d have probably been happy being violent and destructive.
Because I got to that point later in life anyway, where I couldn’t be violent enough. Wouldn’t have been healthy, but I would have been, probably, even happier than just piddling about fixing stuff and doing what I actually did.
Jody: And how long did this go on, where you realized, you know, a choice had come up at that time and you were, what, 20 years old?
Ken: Oh, right then, I was still 18.
Jody: Still 18. And, you know, the sequence of how you went through these things, knowing that you needed the help and that you were determined to get it, you were not going to be a quitter. So many things were part of all the decisions that you were making at that time.
Ken: It’s pretty wild. I made a lot of wrong decisions and no matter who you are in this life, you draw like individuals to you, law of attraction. And I always found the craziest guys to hang out with. The guys that were always getting busted and getting in trouble.
Jody: Oh, some of the stories that you relayed here, which I don’t want to talk about, you may start using words I don’t want you to say on the air. You really were in the midst of the antithesis of paradise.
Ken: That’s a beautiful way of putting it. Yeah. Yeah. It was a prison sentence. I should say again, just because you pass through bootcamp, doesn’t mean you are now in love to death with the Marine Corps start to finish.
And I should also say I was a rare individual. There wasn’t a whole lot of guys like me, even though I had friends just like me.
Jody: You did some pretty good partying there with friends, just like you. Right?
Ken: Right. I pretty much tried to drink my way to a good time constantly. Nothing new there as far as drinking itself. But in the Marines, they provide situations. It’s just how it is. It’s easier to get in trouble if you’re someone who’s fractured like I was.
And they have a lot of programs in place now. And they were putting a lot more in place as I was getting out. I got put through a lot of programs. I have a feeling now it’s probably a lot better than it was, if a guy like me were to arrive on scene. I have a feeling, they have a better way of helping that guy get out of where he is than when I was there.
Now that I know everything about myself with bipolar, that was brewing in me and everything… nobody really could have saved me. I was going to crash and burn regardless.
Jody: Well, you know, you were in a period of time in our country, also in the late seventies and early eighties where everything went, everything goes. Nothing was over the hill.
It was, you know, you can do it. And I think I, because I have sons who are in their forties too, and some would, you know, and their friends and some would say, Hey, you know, I’m going to do everything that I can do. That’s wrong.
And other young men said, well, there are lines that we can’t, we have to draw. You know, and it was tough on the parents because there was no way of knowing what the young people were coming up with through the influence of some of the new music that was out. And the whole thing of you know Timothy O’Leary and well, the rest of the stuff at that time.
Ken: Yeah. And then well, you combine, like when I was in the Marines, like I said before, you’re indestructable, you’re full of energy and you can’t fail. Problem is you can apply this in areas the Marine Corps never intended you to. And so if we partied, we partied the best we could without fail.
When I went overseas a few times, I went to Japan and Korea, I was overseas for a year. And when I came back, I ended up in El Toro, California. That base no longer exists. And I met a different breed of friends.
It turned out most of them were highly intelligent. Some of them were geniuses. We didn’t even know until many years later. And to be that smart life’s too simple in the military, unless you’re actually, you know, really perfectly in a job.
But even then we were just such outgoing types and we had such a need to explore and everything, just, nothing was ever going to work for guys like us in the service, no matter where we were.
And we had no discipline. We had enough to get the job done. We always stood by our job, but we couldn’t be controlled hardly ever
Jody: Your commanding officer or whoever you were, your Corporal, your Sergeant, whatever… you would not do as you were commanded to do? Or you would make believe you heard, or you didn’t hear? How would you handle that situation?
Ken: If we did not agree with the orders put upon us and, and I should also say this applies to the job. This is kind of like any job where the worker knows the job better than the guy managing them. I’ve seen this in many jobs, since we had it in the Marines too.,
We would find a way to get it done the way we thought made most sense. Since a lot of our job was physical, we were going to pay with pain if we didn’t get this done in the most efficient way possible.
Or my job also had rotating bosses. A lot of the bosses had no idea what we did.
Jody: So did you weed some out?
Ken: We wore some out big time. We had some so afraid to ever come back to us. It went both ways. We were a blast to be with, if you were in with us.
We had one guy that wanted to be a drill instructor and go on to climb the ladder. And he apologized when he left our shop. He said, I love you guys. I’ve never witnessed anything in the whole Marine Corps, he was a Staff Sergeant, like you guys.
You are unique. You’re far out. But I got to leave you, or I’m never going to finish my career. You’re out of control. You’re insane. I’ll miss you. And I apologize, but I got to go.
Jody: Well that took courage for him to do that too.
Ken: Well it was a weird thing. He was apologizing to us cause he wanted to go on and rocket to stardom through the Marine Corps, but he loved us that much. He said you guys are special.
30:00 Min Mark
Jody: We are talking to Ken Jensen who lives in Tillson. And he wrote this incredible book, “It Takes Guts To Be Me”. But the only thing I have to warn you is there’s a lot of who he really is.
He’s not cleaning up his act in the book as he is for us here on the radio. And that’s who you are. You’ve graduated from high school. How long were you in the Marines? Five years. And you’re out now. How many years?
Ken: Oh, coming up on 20, I got out in 91.
Jody: And you are now you know, do you still go to some of the people that you have been going to in order to keep you on this track? And you’ve been through two marriages, you have a wonderful son and you wish the best for him. And if he went in the Marines, you’d be the most proud individual in the world.
Ken: I’d just about lose my mind, but in a good way, if I was down on those bleachers on Parris Island watching my son graduate, I can’t describe how proud I’d be.
Jody: Why is that? That the Marines do inspire us to think that way?
Ken: Well, you have to qualify to be a Marine. As I understand it, the other three branches when you sign up you’re enlisted. You’re in. And Marine bootcamp… you have to graduate.
A matter of fact, it was the big threat they used to hang over our head. “You’re never going to leave my island unless I LET you leave my island. That was the number one threat. We wanted off the island. I was there for three months. There’s no weekends off. You train every day. I think on Sunday they gave us a little bit of a break and then all the punishment is physical.
And I don’t know how long it is now, but now they got this thing called The Crucible. I think it’s 52 hours of straight, just physical endurance tests and mental tests put together. They didn’t even have that when I was in. And my hat’s off to the Marines that make us through that now. That’s unbelievable.
Jody: Is there a reason for this?
Ken: Well, the Marines are just, we’re expected to win without fail. It’s basically, they want you to have a mentality where you’ll go into a battle, even if it looks like you can’t win, you’re going to go in.
A part of you, the logical sense of you knows you’re not going to win, but another part of you is like, we’re winning any way. We’re going to win or we’ll die trying.
And then the brotherhood, there’s nothing like it. I don’t have friends that mean half as much to me as my Marine buddies I’m still in touch with now. And whenever I meet other Marines that I don’t even know, once you meet them it’s all right.
Jody: Ken Jensen, what started you on the way to make sure that you were going to recover, that you were not going to let this life be, make the best of it because your parents were hard put with you and your wives never knew where you were coming from?
Ken: No, I wore out a lot of people and when I got to my late twenties, I had moved out west. I was nearing the end of my job trail. I was in Denver during the boom times. I got out there I think, in 97, I was there for three years. I had about 20 jobs while I was in Denver.
Some of them were unbelievably high tech and all of them, I pretty much lied. And my resume was just a big fabrication. I, at one time thought I should be a professional resume writer because I couldn’t not get hired, until the illness may be enough of an odd ball over time. People could tell there was something off about me and they didn’t want me in the room.
But my stress levels kept climbing and climbing and climbing.
I kept going to a doctor to get Valium, only because I only knew with my limited knowledge Valium will calm you down. My doctor said, I’m seeing a pattern here. And he said, you’re my healthiest patient. You’re you’re as healthy as a bear.
There’s something wrong between your ears. And he sent me to a psychiatrist and I was diagnosed in about 20 minutes with classic bipolar.
I had highs and you know, where I couldn’t be beat. And I was very creative and everything was great. And I was full of love and excitement. And then I had depressions where I was in the fetal position on the floor. I couldn’t see how the next five seconds on my life was ever possibly going to work.
Jody: The first time that you found yourself in what we’ll call the fetal position, what realization came over you?
Ken: Well, in the early times, I didn’t know. I had no idea. The thing that really got me worried was my first major panic attack. And I didn’t know what that was either.
I had slipped out of the house for the night and stayed gone almost till dawn. I went drinking and I ended up in some after hours club and nothing happened that night, but the poisoning I did to my body it caught up to me the next night.
And I experienced my first major panic attack. It felt like a physical impossibility. It felt like a black hole had opened up in my chest and I was falling into myself at an impossibly accelerated rate. I was being consumed.
The outside of me was dumping into the inside of me and inside of me, it was an infinitely deep hole. And I felt like I was feeling. Into my own body.
It was the most terrifying, horrifying experience I’d ever felt in my life. And it kept getting stronger and it wasn’t just growing. It was getting exponentially stronger. And that was when I first got my first good taste of what insanity was probably going to feel like.
I mean, I faced war. I’ve lived through missile attacks where we pretty much, we just accepted we were going to be dead in the next five seconds. I’ve had Scuds blown out of the sky, over my head with Patriots.
That sounds like the universe splitting in two that’s so loud. And you just, you just assume you’re dead. You don’t not even afraid.
And I’ve just, I’ve been through a lot of very scary moments, nothing compared to this panic. It was hideous. I had to go to the hospital. They put so much tranquilizers in me on the way there and in the hospital and I was still conscious.
They were having no effect on me. And I was begging the doctor to give me more.
Nobody knew what was wrong with me. I had no idea. Doctor said, if I give you any more, you’re going to die. There’s enough in you now to sedate half the emergency room. And they gave me more anyway. Then I passed out with whatever the last thing was. And the next day, nothing, nobody knew what happened to me.
Jody: Ken, when they take the blood tests and everything else. And these things show up in a blood test. What conclusions do they come to? Because how closer are we dealing with bipolar?
Ken: There’s no blood test for bipolar. Bipolar is just, well, it’s a whole number of things. And because it’s a whole number of things is why taking a pill or a combination of pharmaceuticals is completely missing the point.
It’s putting a patch over the pothole, but your car isn’t going to be held up by that patch. If you drive over it.
Jody: When you first told one of your counselors that in different verbiage, what was her reaction?
Ken: Oh, well I never even got that chance. When I was going through the process, the pharmaceutical process, which is about it. That’s, that’s the plan when you go to a doctor and I went to a lot of them, they just keep trying different medications on you.
And you basically troubleshoot the person’s broken mind and everyone’s different, all different medications, everything’s all different and they just you’re just lab rat until they get the right mix. That’s even if they do ever get the right mix. And none of that ever worked for me.
Let me backtrack. They kept giving me meds for my head. And I’m at home researching on the internet, what might apply to me because I’m deathly afraid for my life. This illness has a high fatality rate.
It’s the most severe fatality rate for a mental illness. The chance for suicide is massive because it’s too much to take. I was failing mentally and they just kept adding more and more pills and no pill had any effect on me. I was, I was like immune to any medicine, but I could get the side effects from it.
Bipolar is untouched, but now I have a whole slew of medical created side effects. Then my physical health failed. This is over a six year period. I ballooned up to over 300 pounds. My thyroid shut off.
Jody: Wait a minute. You were that heavy? Right now, ladies and gentlemen, he’s just a gorgeous 40 whatever young man with a beautiful mustache. And what’s this here, goatee? And he’s walking as straight as an arrow.
Ken: And I’m a gym rat. I take very good care of myself. But when I reached a point, I didn’t even know I was 300 pounds. I was wearing size 44 pants. You know, I’m like a comfortable 38 now, 36, but I had no idea how heavy I was getting.
Then my legs started retaining fluid. My lower legs filled up with water. It looked like I had elephantiasis. I had to wear compression stockings. Then I was taking four or five different medications for my physical health, on top of the three to four to five I was taking for my mental health.
And I got real fed up one day.
40:00 Min Mark
Jody: When you say fed up you mean angry?
Ken: Yeah. I just refused to believe I was this sick. It did not make sense to me. And I’ve learned, you know, you meaning all of us, you know, inside your body, your body will tell you what’s up, what’s working, what’s not.
You might not understand it or know what the clear stuff to take is, but you know, when something’s wrong. And I knew all these medicines were wrong.
And then I reached a point with my doctor. He talked to me. I used to get very violent. I only could feel despair, confusion and rage. That was almost all I ever felt. I had no joy or anything else.
I was turned off as a human and the only emotional outpouring I could have was rage. And if I aimed it at you, you had a problem.
If I found the other guy like me out there, I had a problem. I didn’t always win! And there’s a lot of us out there and we find each other. Sometimes I did the thumping. Sometimes I got thumped. Sometimes the cops wore me out.
And I said this once on Kingston cable, I give a thank you to any cop listening who took care of me, who could have gone another way and didn’t because they knew there was a deeper problem with me. I appreciate it all you guys.
I have been arrested, detained or handcuffed by just about every police force that there is an in this area and a bunch out west and a bunch of the Marines. It’s handcuffs have been like personal jewelry for me over the years.
Jody: Yeah. ‘ cause the Marines were tough. That one time, when you were all caught in the barracks, messing around.
Ken: I had a rage attack, you know. I know now, in retrospect, I can see how the bipolar has been trying to push in to make itself known for decades. I had a rage attack and yeah, the MPs wore me out. They pretty much ripped me apart, ripped my arms out of their sockets and kicked my ribs in.
Because I wouldn’t stop, I wouldn’t stop fighting. I used to be mad about that. Now I’m just, I’m glad. I’m glad they never took me to jail. I don’t know why, but I’m like, you know what? I I’ll take a beatin’ better than going to a cell.
And now I know why. They just did what… I’ve been in that situation. I’ve done security in a hospital where, when I took the job, I was hired to fight. And I fought people that were in worse shape than me.
Jody: Explain that. When you say that you took the security job.
Ken: It was an emergency room in a hospital. It was out of control. People like how I would eventually become, were coming in off the streets.
Cops will bring people in who were clearly psychotic, deranged, or high or tripping, whatever. And they would just come in and just start taking it all out on the staff or each other, or trying to hurt themselves.
And when I got hired for that job, I was told you’re gonna fight. I’m paying you to fight. Are you up for it? I said yeah, I’m up for it. And I dealt with guys that were just like me. The irony was sickening.
Jody: So you saw yourself there.
Ken: I saw myself .
Jody: Was that an awakening right there?
Ken: It was part of it because I was getting worse. My life was falling apart, faster and faster. And it dawned on me. It’s only a matter of time before I’m on the receiving end of me. I’m going to, I’m going to be the guy getting chained down to the bed and getting thrown up against the wall.
Jody: When that light went on what happened after that?
Ken: Well, at that point I just kept getting worse. There was no rational thinking.
Jody: It stopped right there. So then you went right back.
Ken: Well, I just kept getting worse. The illness, if it really escalates, it takes reasonable thinking out of the picture. You don’t see life like anyone around you. You can’t make the decisions that would seem common sense and rational that everyone else can. You’re you’re not capable.
You reach a point where you’re not capable of making even the simplest decision. Like I can put a pencil down on the desk and then go to pick it back up. Have no idea why I’m reaching for the pencil and then fly into a rage, because I didn’t know why I was reaching for the pencil. Then I wouldn’t remember why I was in a rage.
It just goes round and around. And it’s just confusion and anger. If that’s where you’re at. And what turned me around was when my last doctor said, listen we’re reaching the end of the list for applicable medications for you.
And he said, I know that you don’t just take my word for anything. This was back when I was still pro medication.
And he said, I know you’re going home and researching this. I know that you know what the list is. We’re almost done. And I don’t have hope that the last couple on the list are you even going to make a dent in what’s wrong with you. He said, I don’t have a lot of hope for you here.
And I left with some other jar of pills. But on the ride home, I realized it was no different than a doctor saying you have cancer, you’ve got six weeks to get your affairs in order. It was the same impact.
I went home knowing, after everything I’d been through in life, cause we’ve glazed over a hideous amount of information here.
Jody: I would suggest they get the book. Where can they get the book?
Ken: You can get the book at the website, www dot. It takes guts to be me.com.
Jody: And he’s has a cigar. And do you still smoke?
Ken: No. No. That was a 10 years ago picture. No, I don’t do anything. If it doesn’t belong to them, if it’s not food air and water, it doesn’t go in.
Jody: Good for you because every other picture has the cigar, except the one on the back page and I thought the significance in that, the difference.
Ken: I want to people to see the before and after.
Jody: And it is How An Ex Marine Beat Bipolar Disorder. And the name is Ken Jensen, J E N S E N. How can they get it?
Ken: They can go to the website, www dot. It takes guts to be made.com.
Jody: And that sounds like you’re bragging, but it’s not. It’s the facts man.
Ken: It’s basically anybody that has bipolar and is still alive, I think can make that statement. The disease is a pounding, vicious, brutal disease.
It assaults you. You take it, you don’t just live with it. You endure it. And if you’re not getting better with it, it becomes clear to a lot of people it’s going to take you out.
I dunno in some way, you’d almost be lucky if you could just shut down and be mute, but even that gets to you over years, cause you just get dulled and you’re numb. And that gets old and nothing’s turning around.
And that’s, that’s where I was when the doctor gave me the good news that you’re all done basically. Cause we used to just talk straight.
Jody: Because this is the man in Albany.
Ken: Yeah. He was my friend and I trusted him. I still do.
Jody: And you could trust him and you’re saying nothing is working. We have to do something else or nothing at all.
Ken: I told him, I said, I don’t want a hug. I don’t want a pat on the back. I don’t want you to be my friend even. Give it to me straight. Cause I wanted to fight. That’s part of being a Marine too.
I said, I want to fight. But I had almost no fight left in me. And I had to realize medication wasn’t working. He told me it wasn’t working and my head did not work. I was not even human anymore. I don’t know what I was, but I basically was a recluse.
I reached a point where I was a reckless for two years. I didn’t hardly leave my basement. I had nothing to do with people. I did not know how to relate to people at all.
Jody: Who took care of you during that time?
Ken: My parents, at this point, I had lost my second wife and we’re separated now, but she’s still in my life. She’s a wonderful woman.
Jody: She sounds like a doll.
Ken: She is. But you wear wives out. Wives were husbands out. This illnesses, it involves a lot of negative energy. And you’re a scary person to be around. I did a lot of things I’m not happy with and I can’t take them back.
But if the illness just powers you along and you’re not even you. You’re not even there half the time with the psychosis it can bring about. You literally don’t know what’s real.
So with a head like that, I started doing more research. My brain did not even work. And I had to fight just to figure out what to do.
When I got home from that first, that last doctor’s visit. I heard a healthy little voice in my head that said, this is not the way a Marine goes out, do something, do something. And I heard that loud and clear.
I’m like, this is it. I’m going to fight this, or I’m going to die. I’m going to die in jail. Or I’m going to die in a lockdown mental ward, because I’m not going to live through this. There is no way.
So I started doing my research and I started finding help. And I stepped out on faith. I got burned a lot. I got ripped off a lot. I found some good things that were not good until I put my very first step into play.
I found that out through trial and error. I went back to the things that I intuited were good and found I was right. I just had to stabilize basically my nutrition first.
My thinking is I’ve been a mechanic, a number of times on any amount of equipment over my life. I thought of this like a mechanic. It’s what’s what’s going on that shouldn’t be, and what’s not going on that should. I took it from there and started figuring out how to fill those holes in my body, fix the machine.
Jody: Now, what year was this?
Ken: When I started that fight back to health, that was probably. I’m not sure now, four or five years ago, when I started figuring it out. Maybe six years ago, when I started putting the system together.
Jody: It’d be beginning of the new century.
Ken: Right. It took me about two years to piece together this whole thing that I still have in place now that keeps me fine.
Jody: Who helped you to learn during that time, during that two years. Because that was really the turning point in your life. And it was long turning point.
Ken: Just my parents really. They were it. And I found out later, once I was healthy enough that we could have these talks, they almost gave up too. They were afraid of me. They never knew who was going to come up those stairs. I never knew.
And my mom said, you just looked sinister the look on your face, and this is my mom. You don’t want your mom thinking that way about you! And they said between the mania, when I couldn’t shut up and the depressions when I just upset everyone… Cause you bring everyone down with you.
And there’s a lot of weird. Bipolar is up and downs. You feel great. You feel terrible. And then there’s a whole slew of very odd, weird symptoms. I call it a low level LSD trip.
50:00 Min Mark
You experience dozens and dozens of very weird symptoms that in themselves are not horrible, but you usually got a fistful of them going on all at once. And it’s just, it’s just wearing you down.
Jody: To write this book, not only as Marine would say guts, but it took a lot of courage and it took a lot of integrity and honesty. You handled most things pretty good.
Maybe some of the the people that helped you figured you might have been hard on them because you were a tough person to deal with. But it’s an incredible book. And many people who are borderline on some of these things, I think they would get a great deal of help out of reading this.
Ken: That was my aim. I had to be convinced to even write this book.
Jody: Oh, who did the convincing?
Ken: My family told me for a while. It started out, for years, I wanted to write about the Marine Corps. Because my time in the Marines was very similar to anything out of Hunter S Thompson’s life. That was how I became in the Marines and we strove to find the weird .
I wanted to write about that. And then along the way, as I got better, I didn’t realize the change that was taking place on me. I simply was happy that I was feeling better. It wasn’t an over joyous thing.
It was such a gradual progression back to good health that I was just satisfied that I was no longer battling this illness on a daily basis.
And my family said, you don’t know how severe the before and after is. You got to tell people about what you figured out. And I wrote, I wrote one book and it was about mostly the Marines. And I hired a company.
And my writing coach was a college professor in Missouri who argued with me mightily on the phone for three weeks telling me…
She said, listen the book’s great. Sit on it. We’re going to make a movie out of that. But she said, you know something that can help other people. We have to figure out what it is. I said, no, I don’t know anything. And we argued.
I meant it. Totally. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I didn’t realize what I’d built. And by the time we got done arguing after three weeks, I finally saw what’s now in my book and my system. And I knocked out the book in about three weeks and then refined it over probably the next year or so.
Jody: This book or another book this in three weeks?
Ken: I wrote two books, probably in three weeks each. Another book, the same size at about 50,000 words. The material has been in my head. It’s just been there. It just fell out on me.
Jody: And you just went to the computer and put it down. And that was it.
Ken: I had a company that helped me develop the book, but to be honest, and I still work with them now for everything that I do. They’re my mentors.
But I never even really followed their system. The book just poured out on me. I could hardly keep up with the pen, what was coming out of my mind.
Jody: And the book is a very honest, very plain book. You don’t hold back on anything.
Ken: Well, it’s like I found a lot cause I worked with the mentally ill in two different areas and I knew how I liked to talk with my doctor. And I just wanted to be told straight.
I didn’t want a hug. I didn’t want to be told it’s going to be all right. I didn’t want niceties.
Jody: You didn’t want BS, is what you’re saying.
Ken: Let’s get on down to this and fight this thing. And so I realized what I saw as an employee working in the mental health care system: people are hurting and they’re scared.
And I dealt with a lot of families that that were with these people. And I realize people just want to be told straight, and they’re never going to listen to me if I don’t tell the truth.
Jody: Well, the truth is here. And just to let the parents know, some of the language is pretty blunt. It’s not that the young people today and I mean, by that teenagers, haven’t heard most of the language, but just to be aware.
Ken: Well, my system will work on anyone, on any age group. There’s a meditation part to what I do and that is not applicable to kids under 16. But the whole rest of my system, anybody can use it.
And it’s not just for bipolar. It will work if you’re simply straight. If you only have depression. Cause depression is one little building block in a 1000 block-unit disease. That’s the horrific thing about bipolar.
Depression is a nightmare all in its own right. Bipolar is a whole other pile of problems on top of that.
Jody: Well, it’s a battle within yourself that you don’t know that’s fighting all the time.
Ken: Right. And my system deals with that. It’s why a pill … it’s like putting out the fire in the kitchen, while the rest of the house goes up in flames behind you. You’re missing the point.
Jody: The pill goes up and the pill goes down and does not reach the point that is helpful to both sides.
Ken: I had over a hundred medications put through me in six years. I just got worse. I steadily got worse every single year. I realized some people take medication and they stabilize. They reach a point they’re happy with.
And I say that’s fine, more power to you. I’m not looking for converts to my way of thinking. I’m saying, if you hit the bottom, like I did, and you think you’re all out of options, you’re not
Jody: Alright. Wrap this up, sir.
Ken: Well, if people would like to get a better idea of what I’m about and also get access to a free course, please go to this website is www.tinyurl.com forward slash Ken’s quiz. K E N S Q U I Z two.
Jody: And if he sounds abrupt, he’s really not. It’s just, he’s glad to be alive.
Ken: Thank you, Jodi.
Jody: Thank you.
Bud: WKNY Kingston. A Cumulus media station.
So that was my interview with Jody McTaggart. Another one will follow. I think they were about a year apart. I can’t really remember anymore because it was nine years ago. And I look forward to sharing that one. That’ll be the podcast episode three after bipolar podcast, episode three or after this one.
So for now you’ve been sitting in your chair long enough or in your car or what have you. Right now. I want you to go to outsiders journey.com and click on the green field for the free wellness system. You’ll see it on the site.
If you are bipolar, or even if you’re supporting somebody who’s bipolar, that system’s for you.
It’s really for anybody that wants their life to be better. But if you’re fighting bipolar in particular, all I can say is, I don’t know if my system will work for you. It would be wrong of me to, you know, besides illegal, but just wrong, just human to human to say, yeah, do this and you’ll be fine.
I actually find most people that try to use my system for one reason or another, don’t get where they want with it. Don’t get anywhere at all. There are a lot of variables as for why that is, but some people do get somewhere with it.
And there’s one step in the system, the very first step of the system has a massive positive impact on the bipolar mind. That’s its own thing. If the rest of the system didn’t even exist, I’d want you to know about Step. One.
I have a lot to say about those people. We’ve had a really nice time working together over the years. I don’t anymore, but in the be beginning of my efforts to share with the world what it was I learned to beat bipolar without drugs, those guys were key.
So let that give you a little ray of hope. And if you’re a supporter of someone who’s bipolar, you might have your sanity and composure and ability to think rationally, but you’re under a lot of stress.
I know this from talking to all the people that had to work with me and help me while I was in the wars, so to speak. You’re in a pretty hard spot yourself.
My wellness system is for you too. It’ll help you deal with the stress. It’ll help you do you better so that you can be of more use to your bipolar person.
Little secret about my system. It’s good for anybody for any reason. All right. Thanks for checking in…