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In the winter of 2017, I suffered a manic episode, also known as bipolar mania.
The biggest symptom of mania is paranoia.
You feel as if the entire world -- including your lover, friends, family, and strangers -- is conspiring against you.
Paranoid thoughts often involve a fear of being hurt or killed.
When the fight-or-flight mechanism is always active, bad things happen.
You’ll behave in strange ways… ways so strange you might get arrested and branded a felon.
America is the best country in the world. That said, I have high standards for myself and the nation as a whole.
I learned many societal functions of our great country are severely broken.
This applies to: court, criminal justice, law enforcement, and mental health rehabilitation.
The book also includes uncomfortable truths you’ll never see covered on the news.
Examples include a presidential assassination program that doesn’t explicitly exclude Americans from being targeted.
No trial or conviction is necessary.
If you’re skeptical, consult the appendix and fact check the sources. It’d be foolish to believe anything just because an author said so.
The opening chapters begin with a narrative written from the perspective of my past self.
Being upfront about the deluded thoughts that governed my odd behavior is the best way to help you see how mania corrupts the mind.
If it’s not treated quickly, the condition worsens until you go nuts.
I’m discussing madness, which many mental health professionals call: “psychosis.” Both words describe the same concept.
Your sick brain starts to hallucinate.
You see, hear, and feel stuff that didn’t occur. Your senses conspire to manipulate you.
In the short-term, it’s horrifying. In the long-term, you’re left feeling as if your perceptions can’t be trusted.
People who suffer a mental breakdown are ten times more likely to kill themselves than the average American.
It's a traumatic event. Many people commit suicide before they give their scars enough time to heal.
I was seconds away from suicide myself.
But I resisted the urge. It’s the best decision I ever made. Brace yourself for a wild ride...
I woke up in a sweat and knew I’d be dead by dawn.
The United States government has a kill list called the Disposition Matrix.
It’s not only used for terrorist threats.
Even Americans can be assassinated without a trial or conviction.
How did I end up on the kill list?
It didn’t make sense.
I saw signs of danger everywhere.
Friends and family were in on the scheme.
Everyone kept making comments that involved fires and furnaces. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
People often make word choices that signal a lie or hidden intent. This is the method they’d use to kill me.
My house would be set on fire with me and Dixie, a ten year old beagle I loved dearly, trapped inside.
At the time, I lived in an old and poorly maintained house. No windows opened.
They'd start the fire while we were asleep, be confident in their assumption we wouldn’t get out, and blame the tragedy on a mechanical failure. No investigation would follow.
I had to devise an escape plan.
It would be hard since every device was bugged. According to classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency’s mission is: “Collect it all.”
Their objective is to capture all electronic communication and store the content in a database.
They have the capability to record anything you say or do around smartphones, computers, and tablets.
If they ever decide you’re a threat to the Establishment's agenda, this information could be accessed and used against you.
So I left all electronics at home and drove to the library. Instead of using a computer, I talked to a librarian, and obtained a phonebook.
I called a taxi service and scheduled a ride to the airport. Sneakily, I’d leave my car parked in the driveway.
The charade wouldn’t last, but it’d buy enough time to throw them off my scent.
Then I went home and laid down for a final cuddle with the dog.
This was the worst part. I couldn’t stop crying.
Dixie and I had been best friends for a decade. She was my doggy daughter.
I felt guilty for leaving Dixie at home. But there was no time. And who could I trust?
The conspiracy was so deep its tentacles reached my closest confidants.
Their problem was with me, not the dog.
With such powerful surveillance methods, they’d notice I wasn’t home due to the lack of speech and movement.
By putting miles between us, I hoped to spare Dixie from a horrible death.
Despite the risk involved -- no devices should’ve been used since they can trace you via GPS -- I logged onto Facebook via laptop.
I asked a friend to take care of Dixie as soon as I arrived at the airport.
They were compromised like everybody else, but also loved dogs. And I’d never forgive myself for abandoning her.
Next, I went to the ticket counter, and picked a random flight.
When you’re against an enemy who can trace your every movement, the only real solution is to be unpredictable.
The flight would put me in Florida by midnight. Four hours later, I landed and hailed a taxi.
To continue the trend of chaos, I let the driver pick my hotel. It was seedy but worked.
The next day, I took a walk and found a Perkins Restaurant.
I relaxed into a booth, sipped a cup of coffee, and ate an omelet.
After breakfast, I approached the cashier. My debit card was deactivated.
Not a part of the conspiracy.
Use a debit card in a different state without notifying the bank and fraud protection kicks in.
This presented a problem.
I left my cellphone at home.
Like the parked car, I hoped this would confuse the enemy, since smartphones are easy to trace.
Without reactivating my debit card, I wouldn’t be able to pay. I asked to use their phone and they refused.
Angry, I walked back into the dining room, and asked diners the same question.
They refused, too.
Paranoia roared back to life. Everyone in the restaurant was aligned against me.
Perkins staff called 911.
Two officers walked inside. They asked me to leave. I stayed seated. Then it became violent.
They forcibly removed me from the booth. Bystanders got involved in the brawl.
I was thrown to the ground. An elderly man shoved his cane against my skull. Others had me pinned down from all sides.
After a struggle, the officers dragged me outside, where three more cops awaited.
They didn’t want to put me in a marked police car. Instead, they insisted on getting into an unmarked white van.
It looked like the type of vehicle you’d use to kidnap a victim, drive to an abandoned warehouse, and shoot them in the head.
Given my position on the kill list, this felt like a real possibility.
The fight-or-flight mechanism activated in full force.
Unknown reserves of strength and power flooded my system.
I kicked and thrashed so savagely they had to tase me ten times, none of which phased me in the slightest.
For a brief moment, I was immune to pain.
Four officers held me down while the fifth bound my wrists.
Forcing me into the van was still difficult. I thrashed and flailed like a fish out of water.
The drive was spooky. There were no windows.
Even scarier, the driver turned the stereo up to max volume, and played one of my favorite songs: “Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift. This seemed like psychological warfare.
We arrived at a facility that looked like a jail.
There was no identifying information.
I’ve read enough investigative journalism to know Indefinite Detention Centers exist.
Government spooks can legally detain or imprison people without limit. They don’t have to prove guilt or have a trial.
Between the creepy unmarked white van and lack of signage to indicate the facility was a real jail, it felt like I was doomed.
An automatic gate closed slowly behind the van. I shoved people out of the way and ran at full speed.
The top half of my body made it outside. Authorities seized me by the legs at the last possible second.
They escorted me into the building and placed a black hood over my head.
This practice is called “hooding” and many scholars consider it to be a form of torture.
It deprives you of sensory input and is often used to obtain information from suspected terrorists during interrogations.
Minutes later, they removed the hood, and placed me in an empty office.
My wrists and ankles were bound to a chair, which restricted movement. I attempted to pull a Houdini, exhausting myself in the process.
The office contained windows. Outside, employees were in a scramble.
My mind leaped back to the fear of fire, which caused me to flee in the first place.
I sensed they were destroying evidence before the building would be set ablaze.
There was a video camera. Recordings are often stored elsewhere.
And it’d be suspicious for an "accidental" fire to follow an accurate prediction about what I saw coming. I plead my case to the camera.
Two officers appeared and escorted me through a maze of corridors.
They took me to a cell. I was demanded to strip and hand over my clothes.
They gave me a red jumpsuit that read: “High Risk Inmate.”
And then the adventure got even weirder.
All of this is true with one exception: I wasn’t being targeted for assassination.
That belief was born from bipolar mania.
Bipolar disorder causes manic episodes, psychological breaks where you become disconnected with reality.
The biggest symptom is paranoia. In short, you think the world is aligned against you.
This is why I read into people’s word choices -- more specifically, words like “fire” and “furnace” -- despite the fact nobody planned to burn down my house.
While this was a delusion, the Disposition Matrix and Indefinite Detention are factual programs.
The appendix contains sources. The National Security Agency indeed aims to “Collect it all.” Documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden contain this exact language.
Their mission is to capture all electronic communication and end privacy on a global scale.
It’s unlikely I did anything to warrant their attention, but they could easily pry into your private life on a whim. People don't like to think about this stuff and I definitely understand why.
Awareness of these programs, which are authoritarian regardless of the party in charge, fueled my paranoia.
Without that awareness, would I have ever believed I was on the kill list?
You must be thinking: “Holy crap, it gets worse?” Indeed it does.
I bet you’re also wondering what the heck happens next. For now, that’s a secret.
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In order to satisfy your curiosity, I'll close with a Table of Contents that teases where the story goes from here. See below...
The Meltdown That Turned My Life Upside Down: On Bipolar Mania and Manic Episodes
That one time I got arrested for no good reason while eating breakfast in Florida.
The Scary Stuff That Wasn’t Even Real: On Delusion, Hallucinations, and Psychosis
When fact and fantasy blur, impossible realities suddenly seem reasonable.
The Crazy House: On Mental Institutions and Their Many Inefficiencies
Let’s put a ton of insane people in the same room and see what happens.
The Long Winter: On Insomnia, Depression, and Suicidal Thoughts
Losing faith in my mental capacity and the following loss of self-worth.
The Plot Twist: On Dealing and Healing after a Mental Health Crisis
Overcoming the odds and learning to live with a past that can’t be erased.
The Fortress of Solitude: On Grit, Endurance, and Mental Toughness
Building a stronger body often leads directly to enhanced mental strength.
The Power of Doggos: On Love, Connection, and Making a Difference
The momentous day when I discovered a new purpose at the animal shelter.
The Hero’s Journey: On Surviving and Thriving Despite Severe Trauma
Why every superhero must face a traumatic experience before they transform.
The Big Picture: On Legacy, Identity, and Finding a True Meaning in Life
How to reinvent yourself in a way that leads to a happy and successful lifestyle.
The Little Details: On Habits, Routine, and Taking Massive Action Every Day
Setting up the support structure you need to translate your dreams into a reality.
The Last Laugh: On Creativity, Conscious Consumption, and Energy Preservation
Eliminating exposure to negative sources so you can concentrate on positive action.
Addendum: References and Resources for Readers Who’d Like to Dig Deeper
This isn’t the most scientific book ever, but I consulted many sources (here they are).
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