Recently I’ve declared that I’ll write more about non-bipolar-themed tidbits. I thought today would be the day that I enact my edict, but I’m not in the mood. (Oh, we writers with bipolar are so mercurial!) I am in the mood to write about something a little bit funny, a little bit rock n’ roll.
Please bear with me.
It helps me to remember the funny moments in between the dark ones. Yes, there were some rather ridiculous happenings that took place during the hypomanic and manic times. Several of these incidents are firmly etched in my brain, and thank goodness ECT didn’t erase them. Interestingly, they are connected with musicians.
I should state for the record that I am a groupie, although I don’t fit the exact definition in that I don’t aim to sleep with musicians . I’m a very selective, innocent groupie of semi-obscure rock musicians who hail from New Zealand . Aside from the Beatles, the band that has had the most influence upon me is of Kiwi origin, and it came into my life when I was thirteen. A junior high school friend, a gifted musician herself, gave me a cassette tape marked “SPLIT ENZ”.
I listened to this tape incessantly on my tape player and on my Walkman. (Remember those?) The music was odd but melodic, and the songs dug into my brain and stayed there. The band was co-founded by two best friends, New-Zealand born and bred Tim Finn and Phil Judd. Tim’s younger brother Neil Finn (who would go on to form the internationally successful band Crowded House) also joined Split Enz. Crowded House, a mix of Kiwi and Aussie members, became one of my favorite bands too. I felt that I should be an honorary member of the Finn family.
The only time I had the opportunity to meet the Finn Brothers was was two weeks after the birth of my first child. The Finns had recorded a beautiful album called “Everyone Is Here” and they were playing in San Francisco. I had not yet been diagnosed with postpartum bipolar disorder; that wouldn’t happen until almost two years later. I hemmed and hawed about whether I would attend the concert. I had a two-week-old baby who I had been with almost every moment since she was born. But I knew this would most likely be my only chance to see the Finn Brothers perform and to meet them.
What no one detected at that time was that my latent bipolar disorder had started to emerge, only to recede a few weeks later. It was triggered due to hormones, genetics, and my losing a full night’s sleep when I went into labor. I became hypomanic and I had the hallmark signs: increased energy, little sleep, pressurized speech, and other uncharacteristic behaviors.
I finally decided I’d attend the show. A friend kindly volunteered to accompany me, and she drove us for ninety minutes in the pouring rain. As soon as we left, I felt massive remorse at leaving my precious cutie. I was breastfeeding her and I brought along my pump. I had an agitated feeling of just wanting to get the evening over with and instead of happy anticipation.
The musicians gave the concertgoers their money’s worth and more. It was a wonderful show, even though Neil Finn told us had a cold. Trouper that he was, the show went on. In true freaky fan fashion I brought cards and thoughtful gifts for each Finn. They both were avid surfers and I brought them each a coffee table-style book about the famous surf break Mavericks. The gifts and cards were how I expressed my appreciation for the countless hours of their music that I had enjoyed for the past twenty-four years.
After the show I found out where the fans would gather. There was a designated roped walkway reaching approximately thirty feet from the venue directly to the tour van. We fans lined up on either side of the ropes for a glimpse of them. I clutched my cards and gifts and I felt nervous. Most of all, I missed my baby – I wanted to get the hell home to her – forget these guys after all! But I needed closure to my pilgrimage.
First sick Neil came out. I didn’t want to interact with him because I didn’t want to breathe his germs and pass them onto my newborn. I leaned back and handed him the goodies. Being the consummate professional that he was, he charmingly thanked me. It took all of twenty seconds.
Then it was Tim’s turn to come out. Tim strode by us and it was clear that he didn’t want to converse with anyone. I was pissed. He wasn’t sick! At least on the outside! And I had left my baby and come all this way to simply hand him a gift! This is when my mania kicked in…
I somehow got over the rope and sprinted after him, yelling “GIFT FOR TIM FINN, GIFT FOR TIM FINN!!!” – I just wanted to shove it at him and leave. My breasts were actually leaking through my shirt at that point, and I wasn’t a happy camper. Then I heard him mutter, “You’re too much, you’re too much!” (At least he didn’t yell it at me.) I shoved the gift at him as he jumped into the van, fleeing what I’m sure he thought was a psycho fan.
As we drove back home, I felt let down from these less-than-stellar moments with my musical heroes. I felt ashamed about what happened with Tim. Years after this all happened, I realized that Tim nailed it when he remarked I was too much; I was too much, and “too much” is exactly what you could say of manic behavior. I felt seen by him!
While he has never admitted in public to having bipolar disorder, I’ve wondered if he has it, for some of his songs (His autobiographical “Haul Away”) alluded to his “nervous breakdown” and his “Cruel Black Crow” song depicted his depression. He has shared in interviews that he suffers from panic attacks. Mental illness runs in his family – his aunt committed suicide. New Zealanders are known for being reserved, but her death became public knowledge in the haunting Crowded House song “Hole in the River”.
Tim has been around bipolar disorder for much of his life. His former best friend Phil Judd was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Tim’s bandmate and close friend Paul Hester committed suicide due to bipolar disorder as well. It’s so common for musicians to suffer with bipolar disorder. I know this for a fact from growing up with my own musician father who had bipolar; quite a few of his orchestra colleagues had it as well.
Well, this isn’t the goofy, lighthearted post I meant it to be, but I am glad I wrote it all the same. I do look back at that moment when I ran after Tim Finn yelling “GIFT FOR TIM FINN!” as pretty funny. You could say my behavior was as “Bold As Brass”, a classic Split Enz song penned by none other but the great Tim Finn.