Tag Archive: bipolar

“Oh, pardon me, she said” as once again a failed background check prevented a good-paying job.

A non-violent drug conviction from 15 years ago, with the  original case begun 17 years ago in February 1998. Delivery of a controlled substance in February of 1998. I was selling drugs to support my drug habit. The Pasadena Police saved my life the day the set up the buy of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). 357 units, carying a punishment of 5-99 years in Texas Prison. Through grace, the Honorable Judge Brian Rains in court 176 granted me 10 years probation.

My idea of “getting sober” meant I would not do cocaine, heroin or ecstacy any longer. I mean everyone drinks and or smokes dope, right? Riiight. So three years, two D.W.I.’s and a divorce later I was sentenced to 10 years TDC. I got sober after a while of being locked up and went to my first meeting on my daughter’s birthday in 2001. I did work with a mentor, a closed-mouth friend in prison and turned my life around. I made my first parole. I did NOT drink in Huntsville when I was released with 8 years and a few months “on paper.”

I waited three weeks because I held on to the notion that I could have a few beers and be cool.


The first time I had two drinks it was really six. I was going to wait until March 18, 201 to smoke dope again and whatdoyouknow… I was getting stoned a few months into my parole. I then relapsed on cocaine on night. Another night I got a hold of some X. The last drug (other than alcohol) was crystal meth. I hate meth. I was looking for cocaine, but I am a drug addict and I took what was available.

I left out that I’d lost my car the last day I got high. I woke up in a blackout, borrowed a car and a keyboard for a gig and proceeded to spend the gig money post haste. I woke up in the Height with a home full of Asian people I’d never recalled meeting. They saved my life. I got a ride to the Montrose and proceeded to try and hustle drinks at Mary’s.

Yes, that Mary’s.

The following day I took my last drink around noon on Friday, December 19th, 2003.

I was already enrolled in the University of Houston. I then was accepted into the Moores School of Music in 2004. I completed my bachelor’s degree in 2008. My master’s degree was done a short two years later in 2010. I then began the Doctor of Musical Arts degree.

I became Dr. Henry Alphonsus Darragh in December 2015.

I’ve been turned down for two jobs since then that I was verbally told I was hired for. You see, those jobs are making and teaching music with children. I have never harmed a child. I have a 17 year old daughter who we got custody of in 2010. We being my wife Melissa and I.

Thank God for her, as I’d likely be under a bridge if the Creator had not put her into my life 6 1/2 years ago.

How long until one’s time is served? I began voting promptly upon completing parole in March 2011. I did not celebrate getting off parole with a joint, I’m a square. Heck, I was an approved volunteer for TDCJ for years and went mostly to the Ramsey Unit for meetings. In 2009 I was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award, after Rudy V., a man whose legacy continues to bear fruit in the recovery scene.


So what must one do to be pardoned? Is it the Governor of Texas that I need to have on my side? What about President Obama, can he help me?

I did my time, I served my sentence. I want to be a full, 100% citizen.

Please Pardon me.

Fired (in 2010)


Almost Five years ago, a few weeks if not the week before Christmas, I was fired. Fired from a church. At the time, I was playing piano for the jazz service twice a month and playing keyboard for the contemporary service every week. The contemporary service was a lot of stress. However, the income helped support my family.

I had recently been married a few months prior and had also just gotten primary custody of my daughter who was 12 at the time. I was also in the first semester of my doctoral program at the University of Houston. Lots of positive change, but lots of stress. 

The last time I played music for that church was a Wednesday night rehearsal. It was the same day I was diagnosed by psychiatrist as having bipolar disorder. 

I had been having severe manic symptoms for a few months. I was overwhelmed to say the least and had an emotional breakdown during the rehearsal at church. I broke down crying because I was messing up on a song. A few days later I was fired. 

Funny, it was the first time that I was ever fired and that firing involved the group of people praying. I wonder if they prayed for God’s will in the decision to fire me? Basically, they were looking to cover their own asses in my opinion. 
We can’t have the service go wrong, right?

I have struggled with this resentment for years, and gone through periods where I let go of it and periods where I took the angst back. 

I don’t know at what time I went back to the church to attend the service that I had been fired from. I even read re-friended the worship leader on Facebook. (a friendship I may lose after posting this)

I am a Christian, and I do believe in Jesus. I believe that he died for me. I want to be very careful not to bash a church or bashing a pastor or bashing a worship leader. But was that the “Christian thing to do?”

No notice. No time to prepare for loss of income and.

I have questions: did the show compassion? Did they do anything to help me? Um… would Jesus have fired me? Ok, ok so Jesus isn’t in the business of running a big church. That’s a gig for people and people are callable. 

Was firing me a week before Christmas in someway a gift?

I can say this, I am very glad that I do not work there anymore. For what it’s worth, I’m grateful for the six months that I worked there. I’m still a member of the Methodist Church, albeit a different one in a different part of town. 

Did they fire me because I have bipolar disorder? Did they fire me because I was emotional in rehearsal and that was the final straw? 

I must not leave out that I was called on the carpet once or twice before because I was struggling with organization.

Whatever the reason, this is an attempt at letting go once and for all. I will not name names and seek to fully forgive those who made that decision to fire someone with a recently diagnosed mental illness, one which they were aware of. 

avoiding mania

I don’t want to go manic.

I have a mood disorder, Bipolar I, and generally have both a depressed and manic spell each month.

I go through this cycle often.

I absolutely welcome not being depressed anymore, as I came out of the darkness last Thursday. Subtly. But on Saturday, I saw my first flashes of “fast time” though. I immediately checked in with dudes in my support group, some in recovery and one who is clean/sober and also has bipolar. I made the commitment not to eat sugar or take caffeine, as suggested by one of my dudes. Sugar is like cocaine to the manic brain. Same for caffeine. Those are two of my last devices to cope with. Sugar especially when I have depression.

I’ve done well with that so far. I also started my walks again. Walking is good for both sides of the spectrum, of course. I walked for an hour yesterday. Today, 45 mins.

Here’s where it gets tricky: SLEEP. I went to bed Saturday around 10:30pm and made it a point to turn my wi-fi off to help fight my compulsion to be on my phone. I used my meditation app Simply Being and got some rest. Then I woke at 2:45am…

For the day.

I played my church job which I am super grateful for for many reasons. I avoided caffeinated coffee and the mmmmm lovely Shipley’s doughnuts at the church. After a father’s day gathering with the dad’s on my wife’s side of the family, I left to get home to work on a paper that’s due today. I wanted to work all day with no naps but that wasn’t going to be possible.

I am grateful I could nap for an hour. What I must keep in mind is that my illness is getting better. It really is better. When full-blown manic, sleep is quite elusive.

By 8pm, it felt like the middle of the night and I pushed through to write about and listed to Debussy’s Pagodes more. 

My goal was to sleep 10-6am then get up and work for the day. Instead, boom! I’m wide awake 3.5hrs later.

I’ve gotten some good progress and have to question why if I haven’t blogged in months am I doing so now?

It is because I’m frustrated and tired of this. I don’t want to have bipolar disorder. I just want to be cool. Maybe a little up, a little down, but not this shit. Depression is for the fucking birds and I can fight it, but I cannot seem to beat it. It’s as if I’m going to be depressed for at least 10 days out of the month. Ugh! And mania, well, although everything feels good, I often lose track of time, spend money I don’t have, and other painful things.

Having written that two things come to mind. It is getting better. I am on an incline where the spectrum of mental health is concerned. I have more tools to cope than when I was diagnosed with BP in 2010. So… I’ll keep taking my meds, I will check in with my doctors, I will carve out time to walk everyday, I’ll go to more meetings, I will stay connected, I will schedule meals (I forget to eat), I will meditate, and lastly, I will avoid caffeine and sugar.

I don’t have to go full blown manic, I can harness my superpowers for good.

I will write a good paper on my analysis of Debussy. It’s 4:25am and the world is quiet. Class isn’t until 2pm.

I don’t like this last “I will” statement… I will stay offline until this evening. #yikes

Thank you for reading this.

Caffeine free

I learned something yesterday. After going 6 weeks with no caffeine, I drifted back into use and had a rather large 1/2 caff in the morning. Bad idea. I was mildly manic and eventually wasn’t able to sleep well at all and, the tremors which had all but been gone during the caffeine fast returned. And the blurting out.

So I’m back to caffeine-free Henry. This was confirmation that I have no business messing with caffeine. I gave up alcohol and drugs, then I gave up smoking, and now… caffeine.

Back to school

Spring 2014

It’s the third week of classes and I’m starting to get my new rhythm down. This will likely be the most intense semester I’ve had in years as far as coursework goes. I am taking Classical and Romantic Performance Practice, Doctoral Theory Seminar, Italian for non-majors II, and rehearsals for the Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra (we have four concerts)

Although I had the typical first few weeks of anxiety, crying was at a minimum this time around. Rather than looking at the various syllabi and freaking out about all the papers and assignments due this semester, I’ve tried to break it down week-to-week, day by day, of scheduling what needs to be done. This is my last full-time semester as a student.

Although I will miss my Tuesday night steady gig with the Bryan Anthony quartet, having that night off will be great. I also made the decision not to teach private piano at Writers in the Round this Spring.

If I had a complaint, it would be that I have a lot to read this semester! If that’s the worst oft problems, life isn’t all that bad.

As far as a mental Heath check-in goes, I’ve had multiple weeks of being in the middle. I’m so very grateful not to currently be depressed. I had some signs of manic yesterday and am being sure to take care of that side of me and do the typical protocol.

So in all, life is swell. Melissa is loving working at the mayor’s office and Hailey is shining at her high school. She found out last week she’s ranked 36 out of 700 freshman! What a hard she is. All that while keeping up with band and cheerleading.

I’m impressed.

Composing again

Working on my live CD recording last month got me writing again. As my psychiatrist Dr. Lee says, “it’s an anti-depressant” for me.

I’m currently working on an arrangement of my tune “Leveled Off” for Omni Brass. (2 trumpets, 2 trombones, and vibes). The tune is actually about that space where I’m in the middle. No depression, no mania.
I’m about 2/3 through the arrangement.

I’ve also started an a Capella version of Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned.” It has men’s voices only with me singing the lead. Pretty fun to write! I it’s good, it may be included on the Moores School of Music Jazz Orchestra concert “The American Songbook” in April.

I’d like to also write an arrangement, or intro/endings really for “You Come From Rhode Island” to be recorded for my CD, Too Much Monday

So, I’m not depressed and I hope to keep writing when I have what seems like the inevitable slump. We’ll see, maybe I won’t get depressed soon. It usually occupies 2-3 weeks of each month in average.

I push forward!


the quigglies

Yesterday I vaguebooked that I disliked the quigglies a lot. No explanation.

Here it is: when I am in the manic state and tired, I blurt out things and my body twitches. It looks a lot like turrets. It’s so frustrating because it seems to only happen when I need rest the most. It fires up my heart when it happens and I am totally awake.

Sometimes I blurt out what I’m thinking and it makes sense. At other times, it is complete gibberish. And, in the past few days, there is lots of cussing. “Fuck” seems to be the preferred word.

So what can one do? I attempt to stay off my phone, I have been doing some composing. Music seems to help, if not to cause sleep, to at least soothe my restless spirit.

I have a long morning ahead. My call is at 7am in Cypress for a rehearsal and 2 services. Oh, and the playing of Christmas tunes before, in between, and after the services.

It’s alright already. I’ve eaten, showered, and made some coffee which I have to really keep an eye on.

Changing the subject…

I turn 10 next Thursday. 10 continuous years clean and sober. I think that may warrant its own blog.

Much love,


a return to the middle

I obviously don’t blog with any regularity. I remember a rather dark time when I write about having to get a medical withdrawal from school because I was really struggling with the manic and depressive bouts of my bipolar disorder.

Now I find myself at a blog worthy point in my life. I want to share that after around two years of rapid cycling (one manic and on depressive episode a month) I have had my first full month of being level. Prior to that, it was 3 straight months of awful depression.

Since I’ve share this much, I’ll share that a key factor of my month of being level is my getting on anti-depressants again. We cautiously, for fear of swinging manic, started at the smallest dose and slowly increased to where I’m at now. The depression leaving was subtle, not like the manic swings out. I’m still tired often and “need” naps but the darkness is mostly gone.

I feel like I’m on a level playing field.

My prayer is that this stays manageable and my large ups and downs aren’t so dramatic.

I’m doing the best in school than I have in years. I feel like I actually have the capacity of completing my doctorate. With good mental health, I have a shot at it.

Thanks for reading and take good care,