“There was a time I really thought I could fly.”
Imagine you know someone who exhibits the following traits:
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep
- Flight of ideas
- Easily distracted
You might think this is a person who is driven to achieve his/her goals. You might envy the energy and positive mindset of this person. You might consider this person a little eccentric.
Would you ever imagine the person with these traits has a mental illness?
Our most recent guest was Bob Krulish, the author of When Screams Become Whispers, One Man’s Inspiring Victory Over Bipolar Disorder. Reading Bob’s book is like reading the diary of a mad man. At the same time, his memoir will connect to people who are experiencing the madness Bob has endured.
I’ve known Bob Krulish for twenty years. Since I was the executive assistant to Bob’s wife during the years before he was diagnosed with Bipolar 1, I witnessed behavior from Bob which, although unusual, would have never indicated to me he had a mental illness.
“Bipolar Disorder is hereditary. In authoring the book, I realized my dad had it. A life event will turn on the gene. For me, it was when my dad left when I was 16 and I never saw him again.”Bob Krulish
Bob always had an idea cooking. He would describe in detail how he was going to accomplish the grandiose goal he had in mind. His kids, whom I also know, would be enamored by the genius their father was and knew his success would be sure.
Bob seemed to be on top of the world, and unshy about sharing details about the big deal he just made, the house he just bought, or the money he just made. I never saw Bob have a difficult day.
“I was very popular because I was a forceful, charismatic speaker. I was going to be a U.S. Senator, and I enrolled in a program to be a jet fighter pilot. I was also going to be Jack Niklaus.”Bob Krulish
It wasn’t long after the “good days” when the curtain was pulled back, the jig was up, and Bob’s sham of a life was revealed. He lost his home, his marriage, and his kids.
Let me be very clear here – Bob was not a dishonest person. He was not a scam artist. He was not trying to hurt anyone. Bob was convinced everything he said was true. He had every intention of getting everything he set out to. He believed he was the smartest, most experienced, and most talented candidate for every situation.
When someone rejects a diagnosis of mental illness, it’s tempting to say that he’s “in denial.” But someone with acute mental illness may not be thinking clearly enough to consciously choose denial. They may instead be experiencing “lack of insight” or “lack of awareness.” The formal medical term for this medical condition is anosognosia, from the Greek meaning “to not know a disease.
The problem was that Bob’s mental condition of Bipolar 1 had never been diagnosed. Additionally, his symptoms were exacerbated by a wrong diagnosis years before in which he was given medication that sent him into a manic state. The “disease of loss” as Bob once described Bipolar had indeed rang true.
“You don’t think to yourself ‘that was a bad idea’. Instead, you think everyone else has let you down. ‘If it weren’t for that person I’d be a fighter pilot and a U.S. Senator’.”Bob Krulish
Bob’s story is heartbreaking, but triumphant. Bob has spent many years now breaking Bipolar. He now coaches and supports families dealing with the awfulness of the “disease of loss,” and I’m certain great gains will be made by those individuals and families who call on Bob Krulish for help.
“You can be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and never have depression. The key diagnostic feature is the mania. If you take an anti-depressant or an anti-anxiety medication and you truly have Bipolar 1 Disorder it’ll make you manic.”Bob Krulish
In our interview, Bob tells of his humorous encounter with Tony Robbins and how his still-undiagnosed Bipolar condition worked in his favor to ensure short-term fame with the famous motivational guru. He also relates the elaborate way he bought a Hummer and kept his family from finding out for months.
“There’s just one thing. If I could have this one thing or get this one thing figured out….” Is a common mantra Bob has used throughout his manic periods.
My suggestion is that Bob’s support may just be the ONE THING you and/or a loved one needs right now to triumph over Bipolar Disorder.
“If you’re afflicted or affected by this you can live a happy life. It’s worth the effort. The life you want to live is possible.”Bob Krulish