On Christmas Day, me and Keaton had to go and get Travis (the Parrots’ leftfielder) from his brother’s wedding, where he freaked out and locked himself in the men’s room at the Langham, where they were having the reception. He asked us to take him to Huntington Hospital, where they had him for a while in September after the cops caught him trying to commit suicide by jumping off the Colorado Street Bridge over Labor Day weekend. This time was different, though: he didn’t try and do anything to hurt himself; he called his friends instead. Me and Keaton were both super glad to be able to do anything we could to help him, and he chose taking him to the hospital was the best thing we could do to help him.
Travis has a mental condition called bipolar disorder, and I did some research into it when I first found out he had it and that it was why he tried to kill himself back in September. The way I understand it, having bipolar disorder means that your moods are all out of control, and sometimes you can be all elated and happy to the point of crazy (manic), and sometimes you can be super, super depressed. Your mood doesn’t have a lot to do with what’s going on in your life: it’s not like you’re depressed about something that would get a regular person depressed. Of course, if you have one of those reasons for being depressed, it only makes the bipolar depression worse. There’s also no way to predict when your mood is going to change or how bad it’s going to be when it does.
Travis has had it since he was a kid, and there’s no cure. It can be ‘managed’ with medication and psychotherapy, however. There are a lot of medications (‘mood stabilizers’ and antidepressants) out there for it…but it can be very hard to find the right drug or combination of drugs. Travis and his doctors still haven’t found something that works for him long-term. He was on a combination of drugs that was helping for almost 2 years (including when I first got to know him), but, at the start of this past summer, he says it just up and stopped working.
That’s when things got really bad for him…and we know what he tried to do over Labor Day weekend.
Travis is an awesome guy (and not just because I can trust him behind me to get the balls I miss when I fuck up), and he doesn’t deserve to have this happening to him. But it is happening. His family, I’ve observed, is overprotective of him, including his brother Dylan (who just got married and is on a Disney cruise for his honeymoon as I write this.) Dylan’s also a lot older than Travis, so it’s not like they really grew up together. He had a best friend, but that fucktard said he didn’t want to be Travis’ friend anymore this summer, but fuck that jerkoff. The good thing is he’s realized that he’s got enough awesome friends to make up a softball team. (Of course, we do make up a softball team.) Since Labor Day, he’s been turning to the team for support, and to me and Keaton in particular.
Keaton has more experience with people with bipolar disorder than me. I haven’t told y’all much about it, but he worked as a cowboy up in Montana for a couple years after he got out of Europe and away from the drug dealers he was bodyguarding. He says he wanted to lay low for a while, just in case the drug cartel wanted to come after him because he knew too much. (They never did, but it never hurts to be careful, especially with super dangerous people like that.)
So one of the guys he was working with up in Montana had bipolar disorder. His name was Vince, and Keaton says he was a way bigger mess than Travis is. He had medications prescribed, but he would stop taking them when he started to feel better…and then he would get all out of control again. Keaton said Vince scared a lot of the other guys off because his behavior was so unpredictable, but y’all should know Keaton some by now: he looked out for Vince, and got him out of a few really bad situations. When someone’s in a manic mood, he can do real stupid real risky things. Sometimes that can mean driving too fast, only this dude had a horse and not a car. According to Keaton he did some really really stupid shit like trying to break horses all on his own in the middle of the night. He got a mess of broken ribs for that once…and was dang lucky he didn’t get a broken neck to go with it.
When Vince was all depressed, he’d just stay in bed the whole day and the other guys had to cover for him by saying he had a hangover and making jokes about how Vince couldn’t hold his liquor. He confided in Keaton that he often had suicidal thoughts, and that was a big problem: they were on a working ranch, which means that there were guns all over the place. Keaton tried to make sure that the guns around Vince weren’t loaded, but he couldn’t very well take the shells out of every single gun on the ranch. One day Vince did get his hands on a gun that was loaded, and Keaton had to wrestle it away from him. (When he tells the story about having to wrestle with a loaded gun, he makes it clear that it’s nothing anyone in their right mind should ever do…and that he was crazy to have tried it.)
So finally one day they all woke up and Vince was gone. He left a note for Keaton saying that he needed to get away because he couldn’t handle anything anymore. That scared Keaton and made him think that the guy had ridden away so he could shoot himself, so he rode out to see if he could find him. He tracked Vince down, and found him with a couple guns loaded and ready to go, but unsure if he really wanted to use one of them. He just didn’t know what to do next. It sounds like what Travis said on Christmas: he hit a wall. Finally Keaton was able to get Vince to a hospital in Billings where he could get some real help. Keaton’s in touch with him, and, last he heard, Vince said he was doing ‘so-so’ – but so-so is a lot better than dead because you got thrown from a horse or shot yourself.
But Vince was a bipolar friend in Keaton’s past. We have one in our present too…and he was in a hospital here in Pasadena, not Billings.