Monday, December 18, 2023

Episodes of Bipolar: Traffic Court


When I was a youngster and not diagnosed yet things were way harder for me. I was acting wild, couldn't control a lot of my impulses, self medicating, and just generally being a menace to myself while making my family worry about me. 

After the diagnosis, things got much easier. So I'll be sharing a series of "Episodes of Bipolar" about things and situations that I created due to my lack of impulse control and manic symptoms. Some of these stories are 

At the time they were happening though I was actively changing the course of my life, precluding myself from things I had been working towards, and just generally derailing my own hard work. That's the thing with people who have mental illnesses, often they are hurting mostly themselves. Of course, I already had a child by this time and if I had continued on that path I would have affected him as well. I'm not saying that those in the vicinity of the mentally ill are not affected. I'm just saying we are usually ruining our own lives with our decisions. 

The year was 2004. I was finishing up my first bachelors degree in Law & Criminology. Ironic that I was studying the law while breaking it. 

I had gone to visit my father a few months before and my headlight went out on the two hour drive. I got a ticket. My father replaced my headlight before I went home, kept the receipt as proof, and took the ticket so he could pay it for me.

Fast forward a few months later, and I am out with friends drinking. Because the person who was supposed to drive started doing shots, I only had one drink. He gets in a fight on the way out of the club. I drive us away. We get pulled over. 

My license is suspended. Why you ask? Oh well for FAILURE TO PAY A FUCKING HEADLIGHT TICKET OF $15!!!!! The tags on the car don't belong to the car (not my car, so Idk about all that), and there is no insurance. I get arrested. The car gets impounded.

I spend the night in jail and am let go the next morning with an order to go to traffic court and get all the license stuff fixed prior to that. 

When I show up to traffic court, I have proof of paying the ticket, and show my car's registration and insurance as proof that the car I was driving that night wasn't mine, so that I can get the court paper to get my license reinstated. The judge starts asking me questions. I honestly don't even remember what he was asking, but I guess I felt defensive that day because I started asking him a few questions. 

My questions:

Are you happy that you went to law school to be a fucking traffic court judge?

Are your parents proud of you being a fucking traffic court judge? 

And other questions along that same line of questioning. Eventually, my Papaw, who had driven me, stood up and asked me to please be quiet. The judge told him that he was going to be held in contempt too if he didn't sit down, and that was what it took for me to shut up. Not for myself, but for my Papaw. 

Anyway, I got taken by the bailiff because apparently my questions were wrong. And I went to jail for four days and three nights. I probably would have gotten out sooner, except it was a Thursday; plus, I decided to heckle the guards taking us to the jail on the entire drive. They made sure we arrived after 1800 to miss the Friday docket deadline. I mean, I can't prove that...but if they did that then good for them. I was being a real McAsshole. 

Anyway, when I look back on this I now know that I was unable to control those impulses because my brain was in full on mania, so I just reacted and said whatever little asshole thought came into my brain without any regards for the consequences. Now I say this not as an excuse for my behavior, but as a reason which is different. I'm not saying that people who are mentally ill cannot have consequences. I'm just saying that I think the mentally ill courts that are separate in some states is a good way to go in dealing with these types of issues. And I did have consequences. I spent time in jail, I had numerous fines for contempt, and I still had to do all the initial things that had landed me in court in the first place. 

Would I do this now?

Absolutely not. 

But I'm on the right medications, I have been to A LOT of therapy, and I have learned a lot of skills to help with my manic thinking and behaviors. 

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs like these, please talk to a mental health professional. Talk to the person. No one ever talked to me. They all just said things like, "well that's how Rhonda is" or "you know how Rhonda is...crazy" and well yeah. Even on my medication, I am A LOT. I know this, but I also know that my normal and my out of control are two different things. 

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