My head doc is encouraging me to do a life timeline, it’s sort of an auto-biography on a graph. It is geared towards tracking what was going in my life during or immediately before a severe high or low.
It’s a good way to figure out what might trigger depression or mania so I learn what to watch out for and prepare ahead of time. These episodes can some out of nowhere more often than not, but it’s still a good idea. Dawn of the Dead In laws coming over = make sure I have pillows scattered around the house so I can grab one and scream into it. Come to think of it, a lot of my pillow cases have lipstick on them.
Haven’t put anything on paper yet, but I have rough draft going developing in my mind. What I started to also notice was a pattern with mentally ill friends and relatives. Why did it take me 57 years to figure this out? Oh who cares, at least I figured it out now.
This scenario usually plays out as follows: a couple of weeks before a birthday, Christmas or other event where societal pressures demand that you pay out the nose or be thought of as stingy and selfish. It starts with a seemingly innocent phone call.
- The Butter Up: Ring, Ring – A tiny little sheepish voice will say “Hello my beloved parent, grandparent, friend, ex-lover, sibling, etc. I love you soooOOoo much, I miss you, we don’t see each other often enough. It’s so good to hear your voice.” Yada Yada and Yippee Ki -Effin-Yay.
- The Set Up: How are you? (they don’t wait to hear your answer, or if they do, ignore it) Well I’m fine too….except for… this teensy little problem or set back. They are hoping you offer a solution at this point, usually involving large sums of cash. If you don’t offer a solution then – wait for it – within 24 hours the next call comes.
- Baiting the Hook: Hi it’s me again. I’m really in a bind here, my ass is caught in a bear trap. All I need is a little help and X amount of dollars and this will all go away. At this point you start to feel like you’re the one with their ass caught in a bear trap. It’s also starting to feel a lot like blackmail. The pseudo crisis escalates. The time frame tightens up and in 6-8 hours the next call comes.
- The Clean Jerk: (This when the hook goes through your cheek and you hear the fishing line whizzing by your head) They do this by saying “If you don’t help me then I will; go to jail, get evicted from my apartment, lose my car, kill myself, lose my job, lose my kids, my house, I’ll never speak to you again, you’ll never see me again”….or the worst possible threat of all “I’ll have no other recourse than to come camp on your couch for 3 months, break all your dishes, leave cigarette burns on your furniture, and steal everything that is not tied down.”
- Gotcha: this is always a no win scenario, no matter what you do you are screwed, you either 1) accede to their demands , they get what they want and then they disappear for year. Any attempt to contact them after the debacle via phone, text message, or letter is unsuccessful. Or 2) you refuse, they don’t get what they want and then they disappear for a year, but the upside is your wallet remains intact…for now.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If it does then you were born in to a family of master manipulators. Welcome to the jungle, Baby. Don’t go down without a fight!