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Life As A ‘Mad’ Man

“Comes a time, when you’re driftin’, Comes a time, when you settle down, Comes a light, feelin’s liftin’, Lift that baby, right up off the ground” Neil Young 

“Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus, You’ve got to help me make a stand., You’ve just got to see me through another day.” James Taylor

Those two songs helped me get through my first hospitalization. We had cassettes and played them constantly. I was beginning my life as a ‘mad’ man. 

Crazy Colors photoIn a perfect world pe0ple wouldn’t look down on people with mental illness, but then again in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any mental illness in the first place. I am thirty years into my bipolar and I feel the weight of my disease every single day. Every night when I take my medicine I am reminded that I have a chemical imbalance.

I have met a lot of people who are fairly ignorant. One woman tells me “I wouldn’t know you were mentally ill if you didn’t ‘t tell me.” Another co-worker called me “Crazy John” and asked me if I ever came in to shoot up the place to give him a warning. I am tempted to send him an email saying not to go to work tomorrow but I think it wouldn’t be received as a joke.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t mentally ill. That is if I had the freedom to travel and hit the road. I would have liked to have explored the world and in the process doing a little Christian evangelism. But I am bound to a bottle that can only be filled with a thirty-month supply. I need a blood test to get the drugs that keep my brain functioning normally.

They say everybody has a cross to bear. But don’t be fooled there is no equality in this world. An old boss of mine once got poison ivy and complained about his misery that it was the worst thing that had ever happened in his life. I didn’t know whether to be sad for him or envious. The fact that he was a miserable man only concerned about making money really didn’t help the matter any. People in this world suffer from war, starvation, homelessness and even just lack of opportunity. And this wicked man is moaning and groaning over a little rash, it was pathetic.

Mental illness is truly a humbling experience. Time in hospitals and time in recovery affords one a lot of time to think things over. I see the world in a much different way than how it was presented to me in my education. I can now see that people are lied to in their indoctrination so they can be manipulated by the state. I feel the fool now that I have awakened. Ironically there are many peers of mine who had their eyes wide open when they were young but now have come full circle to serve the establishment.

One awkward thing about having a mental illness is revealing the truth of your condition to others. It’s not socially accepted like cancer but every bit severe. Thus there is a difficulty in making new friends and starting a new job. You want people to understand that you have a problem but you don’t want to get rejected or worse yet mocked. So one lives life with a ‘dirty little’ secret, something unclean about themselves that they can’t tell others.

About four years ago I was brutally reminded of my mental illness. I had a job where I had to get up about 5 A.M. Also I was getting home very late, having to travel through the congested traffic of New York City. It was frustrating as well. To cope I started taking half a pill instead of the full dose. As a result by the time I realized something was going wrong, I wound up in a psychiatric hospital. It was a rude awakening and a financial hit. I was in for over a month and I went in during December and got out in January. Thus I had to pay my high deductible on my insurance twice.

You wouldn’t wish mental illness on anybody. It is a life-changing and sometimes life-destroying illness. But it is something I hope that will benefit my life. That I ride the wave of malevolence into some grand heights where I can help others. It is in that spirit that I do things such as write this article.

Please check out my books. There is “More Than The Madness” my memoirs.

And also “Polishing The Fragments” a book of poetry dealing with my struggles in life.

Or check out my links below for my other books. I would greatly appreciate your support and I think you will love my books.

Photos by Olin Gilbert,

Life As A ‘Mad’ Man

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). Life As A ‘Mad’ Man. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Jul 2018
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