Real Chat with Michael Johnson
PROJECT 375: When you wake up in the morning do you know what kind of day you are going to have?
Michael Johnson: No, I do not. Often my mood can change within minutes or hours. I believe that was big part of my diagnosis being changed from Bi-Polar to BPD. Well…no is probably incorrect. My wife works 4 days a week, 2 ½ days on the weekend so I have the kids here and with 3 in the house there is always entertainment. We do try to laugh a lot. I tease…kids don’t like that 🙂
The two days a week my wife works a nine-hour day I know it will be long and lonely and even more so now that my youngest is in all day Kindergarten. Music for me can be a place of solace but also be a trigger. The trigger changes, different songs on different days affect me. Sometimes it takes me to a good place, other times it brings up the feelings of missing who I was and being afraid to find out who I am.
Between finances, my diagnosis 11 months ago…I don’t go out much. For three months I would only go get gas or go grocery shopping. I do a little more but am dealing with back and hip problems.
It was a blessing and a barrier to have my 5 year old during this. It was like trying to heal in real time while dealing with an entertaining, but at times difficult child. I hope to work with my new therapist on discovering “where” I want to be and “how” to get there.
Even writing this has caused some different emotions.
PROJECT 375: What is your favorite family activity?
Michael Johnson: We have intermittently had family game night but not enough. Currently we taped some 30 movies with free movie channels for weekends here and there and we are working through them, its really fun to watch movies from the 80’s and 90’s. We like to go to eat now and then. We enjoy going to our 12 year olds guitar performances’ I was very active as a young man, I do have back and hip issues but I recognize I need to encourage them as well. My 12 year old and I went on a trip with my Dad to Central KS, where he grew up. It was really fun. I need to balance my need to be alone at times versus doing more family activities.
The movie “in queue” is one I recommend for anyone, especially those of us with anxiety. It’s a movie called Facing the Giants and while it is a Christian movie (Just so you know) it’s a wonderful movie about faith and overcoming our own “Giants”. Outstanding movie, check it out.
PROJECT 375: What is one thing you do for yourself everyday?
Michael Johnson: Listen to music and spend time with my kids. That may sound odd based on the above, but I will (frequently) call them into my man “corner” (No cave…just a corner J) to chat, watch funny videos or a You Tube song. It’s the activity piece that’s missing.
PROJECT 375: Who is your favorite musician?
Michael Johnson: Jordan Johnson, my daughter. I am so proud of her. She has social anxiety and PTSD and started lessons in March. She has had 2 performances, the last one at a place that plays local bands.
A “Close” second would be Tenth Avenue North. They are a great Christian band that I listen too every day. I have a very eclectic music taste, ranging from Christian to some country (Toby Keith!) and 80’s and 90’s music.
PROJECT 375: What scares you the most?
Michael Johnson: That I won’t recover, that I am at my own pinnacle. I have reached my highest level, that I am so fundamentally broken that healing and restoration will be difficult. I laugh and cry at my Narcissism, sometimes it’s funny…others not so much. I know it affects my recovery a great deal. That my wife will grow weary of me, I know she will always love me and I don’t “really” believe she would leave me, but it is a fear….at times I feel so lonely that were that to happen I don’t know if I could recover. This is also so indicative of (my understanding of) BPD. Loneliness is big for me/us.
Because my disorder is spawned from a traumatic ( I witnessed my mother attempt suicide when I was 4) event of abandonment the additional time before I was 4 that she spent in mental hospitals we didn’t have that Mother/Son early bonding…I know she wanted to. Her trauma far and away outweighs…and mine is 7 events in 7 years. She lost her Mom at age 3, her brother at 16 and her Dad at 17. In addition all 4 brothers were placed with family but no one would take her and she ended up in an orphanage. From age 10-30 she was an awesome Mom though.
I‘m afraid my Dad will die. Men in his family live to their 90’s and he is in great health approaching 70…still it scares me, I see him slowing down…I think the readers need to understand, in order to understand me, let me briefly say my Mom is a stroke survivor and its an integral part of my story. She was rushed to the hospital in 2007 on her deathbed. I can’t lose her for like the 4th time. Abandonment causes BPD; and I have had several “real” moments of abandonment that just reinforce the fear, it’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
For those that want more detail, if it’s ok, I will post the link to my blog, which started as soon as I was diagnosed in Sept, 2014.
Abandonment is and always be what I fear most.
PROJECT 375: What do you do for relaxation?
Michael Johnson: Watch Sports. Kstate Football and Basketball. I admire the football coach more than anyone but my Dad. Bill Snyder teaches family and self-responsibility. Accountability.
I watch all Chicago teams (Except the White Sox), have MLB Network for my Cubs. Now a Jets fan 😉 and though I live in KC I really like the Blue Jays as well.
PROJECT 375: What does tomorrow look like for you?
Michael Johnson: Great question. Not sure I can answer that in one sentence.
A whole lot depends on my disability case in late October. Between the 3 blown discs, nerve impingement and severe hip and leg pain, along with these disorders make my attorney think we have a good case…of course I am focused on the “hanging judge” I drew. For Disability percentages by judge there is a site you can check his/her average
Approval Nationally is in the mid to high 50%. Kansas is surprisingly at 47%, which for a deep red state isn’t bad. My judge is at 27% lol. He was at 48% 2 years ago so who knows. This is good practice for me to try and let God and my attorney handle it. It would allow us to get caught up. I am not someone that wants disability and don’t want or hope that this is long term. But I need time to heal. I write frequently in my blog about the failures of the MH system
I know what I want tomorrow to look like. Long before my diagnosis I was so touched by a comment Brandon Marshall made. This was at the height of the Richie Incognito bullying incident. He said:
“A LITTLE BOY FALLS DOWN AND THE FIRST THING WE SAY AS PARENTS IS ‘GET UP. SHAKE IT OFF. YOU WILL BE OK. DON’T CRY.’ WHEN A LITTLE GIRL FALLS DOWN, WHAT DO WE SAY? ‘IT’S GOING TO BE OK.’ WE VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS. SO RIGHT THERE FROM THAT MOMENT, WE ARE TEACHING OUR MEN TO MASK THEIR FEELINGS, DON’T SHOW THEIR EMOTIONS. IT’S THAT TIMES A HUNDRED WITH FOOTBALL PLAYERS. YOU CAN’T SHOW THAT YOU’RE HURT. YOU CAN’T SHOW ANY PAIN. SO, FOR A GUY THAT COMES INTO THE LOCKER ROOM AND HE SHOWS A LITTLE VULNERABILITY, YOU KNOW, THAT’S A PROBLEM. SO THAT’S WHAT I MEAN BY ‘THE CULTURE OF THE NFL,’ AND THAT’S WHAT WE HAVE TO CHANGE.”
Again, long before my diagnosis this quote was said. But it touched me so deeply that I would share it with others, it was so true…and for someone that had been teased growing up about crying sometimes, etc….it just hit home.
So I want tomorrow to look better than today. I want to make a difference. Even in my pain and struggles my leadership tests always indicated I had a high level of nurturing. Not sure if/when/how big that will become but if even 1 person is positively impacted by something I say or write then I will be grateful that I was able to help.