EPI-48: Bipolar And Death (Goodbye Dad)
This one’s a bit dark. But only in spirit. I kept the delivery of the message light enough.
I fell out of podcast (and all else) production back at the end of Jul 22.
My Dad got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
From the time of receiving the news to his passing only took about 45 days.
I’m not doing details on that. Suffice to say, he went quick. He suffered blessedly little.
Adding in his inhuman tolerance to pain, he didn’t hurt much throughout.
In that respect, I’d say we should all be so lucky.
But of prime note to you guys, I never lost my mental wellness. Not even close. And yes…I was wondering about it at the time.
And yes. This hurts very, very bad.
Bipolar hasn’t been a thing for me since 2006 or so. Began fighting it my way in 2004. That was a rough year. 2005 was much better. 2006 was when I began feeling well enough to get cocky with the news that it was firmly in my past.
But if anything was going to retrograde me…
So, my wonderful dad’s death didn’t upset my mental apple cart.
But back in the active bipolar days, death was one of the things on my list of “things about which we shall never speak.”
I cover those two things, as well as the good that came from it, particularly from a bipolar prone person’s point of view, in this episode.
Just click the “READ MORE” text below for the transcript!
Hey, this is Ken Jensen. I beat bipolar disorder in an all natural fashion back in the mid 2 thousands.
Believe it or not, that’s not even the coolest part of story. What I learned through that process and what came next and how that applied to bipolar and why bipolar was ever even part of the process, was mind blowing to say the least.
My polar has hidden within its strengths. I’m gonna show you what I mean and how they’ve shown up in my life so you can do the same.
Hello, everyone. This is Ken, and welcome to episode 48, bipolar, and dealing with death. Before I get into this rather deep and brooding topic. Please head over to bipolar excellence dot com and get on my newsletter list.
I’ll give you an 11 page guide showing you how you can take the positive parts of bipolar, find them, nonetheless, and use them to build something larger than yourself something that your heart makes your heart sing, something that your brain can’t let go of, something that you know is valuable to at least 1 other person besides you.
And you need them to find out about it. If you wanna go big, you wanna go massive scale, that only excites me even further.
But I don’t care which side of that scale you fall on. I wanna help you put your message out in the world or whatever your work is as a bipolar prone person. Okay. Back to the big ugly topic. So my dad died back in August.
This is 20 22. He just died in August in the year 20 22. That was bad. My dad was 1 of the world’s better people. He lived to help other people Even more than our family realized, we were aware of quite a lot but not until his funeral.
When about 500 people showed up inside 3 hours, to say goodbye to him, did we realize how many people that that actually was, how big that number was of of who he helped. And that was only the people that could make it to the funeral.
The calls came in for months after bumping into people in in public for months after, and there’s people in other states that are still finding out from the people that live where we do in New York, he touched many, many hundreds of souls in a direct and and usually deep fashion.
I’m not quite sure where he found the time to help so many people to the extent that he did.
I know this, As I got older, I was always aware actually my whole life, even when I was too young to really get get it, I knew he was good with people.
I knew he had a lot of friends. I knew we could never go anywhere without him saying hi to somebody.
And then I got a really good look after his 20 years in the army reserves. I knew how he handled his guys because he got up to the second highest enlisted rank you can reach.
He was a first sergeant in Army, and I knew how he handled the men under him. And women, and I knew how he dealt with the officers, the authority figures above him.
And I took I took mental notes. I think even before I realized I was, when I joined the marines, I’m a different particularly at that time in my life, I was a completely different kind of person than my dad, totally utterly.
And I was a much darker person. He was kinder, softer and gentler, he really was.
And In the marines, I was already using some of his people skills to lead my guys where wherever necessary. Decades went past, and in the middle, bipolar hit me for 8 years, which was an absolute abysmal nightmare.
But as I got out of that, the older I got, the more I started paying attention to how my dad talked to people and why and the results he got and the more I realized I have to start emulating what he does at least in this area.
When in like much of the same things. We didn’t agree on everything across the board.
We didn’t always make each other happy. People are people no matter how great you know, the parental, the child bond is, whatever. Mostly, we were good. And without my dad’s help, I would not have survived bipolar.
Without my dad’s help, a lot of the people that showed up to that funeral would not have survived whatever they were up against. He couldn’t save everybody, but he tried awful hard, and he saved a lot of people from themselves.
He gave when he didn’t have much to give, he’d find a way. And he gave a lot of people help just enough to get them over a hump so that they didn’t fall off the raft and sink.
He gave them just what they needed so they could keep going. Once he was gone, it became crystal clear by what everybody was telling us just How big of a loss this was to the world in general, not just us as a family.
I still I’m still dealing with this, of course, it’s only been since since August and this recording is in December. I can’t say it ever wiped me out entirely, but even to this day it still can stop me in my tracks so to speak.
I’ll drive down the road, and I’m just kinda quietly crying for 10 or 12 miles. That kind of a thing. He was 80. So this wasn’t a god awful shock, but he died of pancreatic cancer, and it was terrible.
2 saving graces came out of that. My dad had an inhuman inhuman pain tolerance. It was it was not natural. He was always getting wounded because he always did labor. Lot of labor oriented work.
He was a truck driver, right up almost till the end. He was still driving a school bus, and he retired from trucking switched to a school bus where he helped special needs kids, and he absolutely loved that job.
He loved those kids. He was like grandpa. He did stuff other drivers didn’t do.
He made a special furlough’s kids, and and the kinds of kids he worked with My god, they were up against it. They were up against it them and their families. They had really, really powerful disabilities.
They required a lot of care for multi person teams, 24 7, and those kids loved him. So he worked literally up to, I believe, about a month, about a month or so before he left. And he went quick.
He basically was fine and then just sleeping a lot, and then it was about a 2 week period of game on were losing dad. And his mind stayed with him to the very end. Almost did a final hours. He went in his sleep. He went in his sleep.
So many people wish wish for such a thing. It didn’t complain. It didn’t take a whole lot of drugs in the end, just a certain amount. And if he said he felt pain, it was probably a colossal pain that would have the rest of us wrecked.
He barely complained and we gave him drugs anyway because we knew he wouldn’t even tell us if he really was hurt all the way to the very end. Honestly, well, let me see.
Fatually, there’s nothing about me that can be labeled bipolar anymore and hasn’t been since the mid 2 thousands. There’s nothing about me that a doctor could could could list on a sheet of paper and be like, he’s bipolar.
It’s it’s just not there. Anxiety lingered in me for the longest. That took years to really whittle down. And every once in a blue moon, It will expose itself.
It shows up still, but it’s just that. That’s it and it’s rare. I know when it happens. I know what to do to avoid it. I know what to do to deal with it when it hits if I’m in a situation I cannot extract myself from.
I’m good. I don’t like that anxiety and still have that much of an effect on me. But again, it’s very rare. I can count My god. On on 2 or 3 fingers, how many times a year it’s ever a thing.
Closer to 1 or 2 fingers. But being that, I did go through bipolar in some of its worst forms, all of its forms, really, at 1 in time or at 1 time or another, I had every version of it that they cared to label.
So I did not know really how I might handle this this this is 1 of life’s worst worst events.
On a good day, it’s hard for strong healthy people to take. I did fine. It was it was tough. I became the head of the family. I had to do a lot to take care of my mom.
I had to do a lot to settle my dad’s estate. I got stretched to my my utmost. Everyone around me, my my wife, my kid, different friends here and there, everybody that could help did, and we all got through it as as a team.
But I was the point man. I you know, 1 somebody had to take care of all the paperwork and everything, and I got through it. The the process aged me. That of that as well is hard enough for the best of people.
And I was wondering if, like, might this be enough of a trigger. I wasn’t worried is the incorrect word. I wasn’t worried. I was just mindful of it. I was like, gripes, if anything’s gonna set this shit back and play.
Gotta feel that this would be it. Never happened. It just never happened. Not nothing happened. Beyond the normal stress you’d expect to experience from such a thing, that was fine.
And That made me feel good. It was just 1 more indicator that I got this thing under control. I’ve had this thing under controls. We’re coming up on 20 years now. But again, this was a big event.
This was the 1 that could rock you off your your footings, and it did not. Now if I can back it up, when I was actively bipolar, I had a long period where I was absolutely terrified to my core whenever I even thought about death.
That great unknown that was intolerable even thinking about it. I would go into some kind of bipolar spin If I let myself actually solidly consider what it means to die, where do we go next?
Nobody really knows. And the the the great unknown just just absolutely terrified me in in in the worst of ways. And and I would have panic attacks, huge panic attacks.
Simply because I dwelled for a moment on on what comes next. I couldn’t handle that huge of a question mark. So I share that because this is a, as I call it, by a bipolar prone people’s podcast.
I wanted you to see that, well, this you know, with my dad going, it it It hurt bad. But it did not knock me of my rock. And my dad has always been a rock for all the lunacy that’s happened in my family and the family tree.
He was unflappable. You couldn’t you really couldn’t knock him out of balance. He’d get just as upset as anybody else about something, but it would last, like, minutes.
And then he’d just go into proactive mode and well, Good thing ain’t going nowhere. We still gotta deal with it. He he was very oh, almost like Midwest.
Slash country, man, a few words. This this is the thing. Deal with the fucking thing. What do you want? Any kind of talk like that too. We didn’t carry on or go in-depth about much of of anything in in in that regard.
He’s like, you’re here. Let’s deal with it. He overcame a lot in his life that would’ve broken me and a lot of people I know. He got our family through a lot.
A lot of lean years back in the seventies. And and then some of the grady eighties, he had 4 companies bought out from under him where he lost his job in in a way that had nothing to do with his performance.
And before I forget it, I’m gonna add at 1 of his jobs, his last job, which he held for, I don’t know, 20 some odd years. That that 1 that 1 stayed put.
He had a boss that was like Louis De Palma in taxi or any of the any of the captains in a police squad room in any eighties movie or television show, yelling with veins sticking out of their neck and everything at everything.
He had a dispatcher like that, and my dad shared right in his last months, really.
That that guy we’d always heard stories about this guy. I won’t name him. But he was a ball buster the extreme. He was psychotic. And somewhere along the way, My dad never bowed before this guy, but he wouldn’t give him what he wanted.
My dad wouldn’t give him the reaction he wanted to his anger. My dad killed him with kindness. My dad was the king of killing. Unbalanced people with with kindness.
And he did that with this guy, but he backed it up with stellar work performance. And At some point, this guy had a talk with him right after an explosion. And he walked away from my dad, then he came back.
And I don’t remember the words exactly, but basically, he acknowledged that my dad was quality people. This guy understood what dad was about and how dad treated him, the the the guy, and he respected him.
That was the gist of it. I don’t know what words got said, but My dad broke this guy down for all the right reasons and ended at the perfect result.
This guy still freaked out at everybody else, but never my dad, not anymore. He respected him. I thought that was fantastic. I have more of an anger edge.
I couldn’t have lasted as long as my dad dead do dad did dealing with this guy, I would have done something I’d have done something a little more aggressive or at the very least I’d have said fuck it and quit.
And Possibly quit before I did something terribly aggressive. And dad did it a different way. And again, I’m not him. But I have pieces of him within me, and I do my best to emulate like a situation like that.
I strive for that. I’m never gonna match it like he did, and I don’t really care to. But I wanna use more of it than not in in how I interact with people. And I practice quite a bit.
I get a lot of chances with with the job I’m at now. I work with the mentally ill and the addicted and I get handed everything under the sun as far as any variable that might apply to these 2 groups of people.
I I see it all. It’s quite a dance. Some are in really good shape. Nothing’s nothing. Other people are very much not in good shape. And I’ve gotta really be skillful in how I speak to them and and reach them in an effort to help them.
And my dad’s my dad’s trainings that I’ve witnessed. The way he was, it comes out of me a lot when I deal with these people. Right now, especially within the last year, way way way more than ever before in my life.
I’ve softened. The better part of me always knew that regardless of the fact that I’m not like my dad exact and I like my aggressive edge. I realized there’s areas where I can tone it down more and I’ll be happy for the effort.
And at my job is 1 area where I I really need to and, of course, do. So I love my dad. I still miss him. His pictures are all over the house. He had a permanent smile on his face. He was 1 of the mellowest warmest people.
He helped everybody in every way he possibly could, always had a good word for people, always had a kind word. He was a shoulder you could cry on. And more than once, he helped me survive myself.
And he got me out of some serious jams that he didn’t even necessarily have to, and maybe didn’t Wasn’t even sure he wanted to, but he did. Now that I’ve been a parent for 20 years, and I had stepkids, I I get how You can get wrong out.
He did. He did, but he hung in there just long enough for me to pop out the other side. I think I’m gonna leave with this last little bit because I could talk forever about my dad and what he did.
There’s less than rosy things to share too, but I didn’t want this to be like Oh, my dad was the best and blah blah. I don’t know something that feels false to me.
But really with him, that really was the bulk of what he’s about. I don’t I don’t care split hairs or get into anything that’s not that, because mostly, he was just 1 of the world’s best people.
But to give you an idea, I have a sense of humor. When I came out of my second coma, I was in my early thirties. I had been in a coma for 2 weeks, and when I woke up, the first person I see is him sitting in a chair.
He’s got tears in his eyes, but he’s grinning. He’s always grinning. And once you know, he realized I was awake and aware and I’m just looking at him.
He leaned in and he’s like, well, give me this much. You’re hard to kill. And we both busted up laughing. My heart had stopped dozens and dozens of times prior to the coma. It was a real bad scene what put me into that coma.
Lithium overdose and then some wasn’t suicidal. Pure assholeishness on my my move, my end. But he hit me with that response when I came out of it, And that’s what that would’ve been perfect for what I wanted to hear.
He knew me. That worked perfectly for me. He got me laughing. I’m a marine. I’m Warvet. I’ve been doing a ton of shit separate from bipolar. This was like a this was a huge compliment as far as I was concerned.
Still here. I can’t even kill me. Definitely not making light of anybody who’s been through something similar or hurdles with family members who who didn’t make it out, but this is how it went for me.
This is how it went for my dad. I don’t apologize for that at all. I thought that was hilarious. And he knew that’s what I needed to hear to to to at least in 1 tiny way, get me back on my feet and get my show back on the road.
I had years of work after that before I even discovered the things I wrote about in my book and share on my website.
And in this podcast, years more went by. But nothing that bad ever happened again. And my dad did everything in his power, everything. To keep me going till I got back on my feet, and he only ever helped me my whole life.
I’m honored to be a son. I’m gonna miss him painfully till I leave this earth, but I’m glad I had him. I’m very grateful that I had them for my entire life.
I’m 54 right now. Some people don’t get that, and that hurts me to even know. And some people don’t even get that. I had him for 54 years. I’m super grateful. He made a lot of people’s lives better.
And he enjoyed being him. That’s my ultimate goal. I wanna enjoy being me It’s gotta be done in such a way that I help other people. And this is my attempt. This podcast and bipolar excellence dot com is how I’m doing it.
Any of this rings true to you? Go to bipolarexcellence dot com and find me. Look for the buttons that make the things happen, and clicking on things and get to know me more, and maybe 1 day we talk and I can help you.
Whoever you are, whatever you’re up to, you’re my people. And I supremely look forward to that to that day. Take care, guys.