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Today, the booze went away.

In about 6 weeks, it’ll be a year since I’ve had a drink.

Written March 28th, 2020. Published May 11th, 2020 – a year since my last drink.

Despite that, I still kept a large amount of alcohol in my basement. This extra time at home has been a good chance to get to the deep house-cleaning, and the re-organization of everything that has perpetually fallen to the bottom of my priority list.

Most of all, it feels symbolic of the inner and emotional work I’ve been doing.

Why did it take me so long to get rid of it?

The surface-level thought is “I put it out-of-sight in the basement, and I didn’t think about it much.” That doesn’t feel like the real answer.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could keep it around, and maintain my self-control” – that feels more true…and also, bone-headed. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else set up that test for themselves.

“I didn’t feel ready to accept that I’m fully sober now.”

Yep, that’s it. I know because I can feel that land in my gut, and in my heart.

It’s weird to think of myself as sober; it’s weird to see that word written on the screen. Alcohol was a big part of my life for a long time. It was not just a way that I’ve sought both pleasure and relief from pain – it was part of my identity. The thought of removing that crutch, and accepting how I’ve changed, felt scary and overwhelming.

I feel some grief at the loss of a “former self” and the things that felt fun at the time. Thank you, historical Tim, for the ways in which you served me in the past. I’m grateful to release you, and your former relationship with alcohol, as it no longer serves me.

Thankful that I now have the tools and support structures to be present and conscious in processing big feelings. A knowing that this is me moving in a healthy direction.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the process, of accomplishment, and of relief.

Who am I, if not bipolar?

About 5 weeks ago, I completed my transition off psychiatric medication. A few days short of 13 straight years of ~100% medication compliance.

I used to hide my disease in shame, and very rarely would say, “I am bipolar.” Then, “I have bipolar.” Then, “I have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.” Sometimes, “I have been given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.”

I don’t identify with a disease label anymore.

Yes, my integrative psychiatrist knows I stopped taking the lamotrigene. We had talked about that becoming a goal of mine, at some point. It happened faster than either of us expected it to.

When I told her that “I don’t identify as having bipolar disorder anymore” she nodded, and took lots of notes. I see her again next week.

So what do I do with this blog, that I named after this diagnostic label?

Career Background

Published: Feb 23, 2020

Most of this blog is about my own experience with a mood disorder and brain injuries, but my educational and professional background is relevant to how and why I have these insights.

This isn’t my full resume, it’s the work/school items most applicable to understanding my neural and physiological patterns and how to use technology to encourage them. These are the phases of my life where I’m working with doctors (MD and PhD), helping develop medical technology, reading research (often peer-reviewed medical journal articles), and generally deep-in-the-nerdiness that I so love.

Work & School in chronological order:

  • Undergrad in Cognitive Neuroscience: Specialty certificate, University of Denver
    • Dual BS degrees in Biology / Psychology
    • Triple minors: Medical physics, chemistry, business
  • Neuroimaging: Sands Research
    • EEG Research using 68-channel high density brain scanners
    • Biometric research: eye tracking, heart rate, galvanic skin conductance
  • Master’s in Engineering, Management: University of Colorado – Boulder
    • Technology Ventures & Product Management certificate
  • Product Management Intern: Spectranetics (now Philips)
    • Electrophysiology commercialization, research, training
  • Global Product Manager, Therapeutic Systems: Terumo BCT
    • Develop & commercialize non-pharma treatments for cancer, transplants, and autoimmune diseases

Medical specialties for which I’ve helped develop or commercialize technology:

  • Apheresis
  • Dermatology
  • Haematology
  • Immunology
  • Intensive Care
  • Interventional Radiology
  • Interventional Cardiology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Oncology
  • Pediatric sub-specialties
  • Stem Cell & Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Transplant Surgery
  • Vascular Surgery

Conferences I’ve attended:

Madness & Genius in Bipolar Disorder: Molecular Neuropsychiatry

“Western cultural notions of ‘mad geniuses’ and ‘artistic temperaments’ date back to Aristotle’s observation that ‘no great genius has ever existed without a strain of madness’”

Dr. Tiffany Greenwood at UCSD has put together one of my favorite academic articles about bipolar disorder. Thoughtful, balanced, and highly referenced. Beautiful. I can’t say I hold it to be 100% accurate; nothing is ever that simple.

Positive Traits in the Bipolar Spectrum: The Space between Madness and Genius

Mol Neuropsychiatry 2016;2:198-212

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/452416