Saturday, March 10, 2007

Garbage in, Garbage out...

Hey everybody!

I was hoping you'd help me with a project.

As most of my regular blog friends know, my oldest son, The Big Kid, AKA The Kid Who is Not Related to Us, had a breakdown last spring while he was away at college. He came home with the screaming meemies, certain that he had a heart condition, an invasive brain tumor, and butt crack cancer.

Anybody new coming in can read all about it by clicking on my handy dandy new label at the bottom of this post.

He's the main reason I've decided to go back to college (since he doesn't drive) and I've posted about our adventures sporadically.

In October, after extensive evaluations, he was diagnosed with rapid cycling Bi-Polar disorder. We've been working really hard to get him on a medication regimen that doesn't "dope" him up, but as most things neurological, it's an individual thing (no one-size-fits-all cure).

He has OCD and ADHD, and the medications normally used to treat this generally induce manic episodes. So while one medication keeps him from feeling the compulsion to scrub his hands until they're bleeding, he needs another to counter it.

It's been a balancing act, worthy of the Ringling Brothers' and Barnum and Bailey Circus!

Knock on wood, I'm grateful to say---he's doing really well with the online classes we decided to take this semester. He can pretty much work at his own pace, doesn't have to sit through endless lectures, or do BS work that is normally used to fill up space in a 2-day a week classroom setting. The format is helpful with his learning style, and he's gotten A's and B's in everything.

Of course it helps that I'm taking the same courses, keep track of the deadlines and beat him with my Bunny Slipper of Doom to get his assignments in on time. We've only got about 3-4 more classes we can take together before our separate majors diverge (he's going for a Criminal Justice degree, I'm getting my Paralegal certificate).

Which comes to my point.

Big Kid is still suffering a lot of sporadic depression. The meds are working as best they can, but he seems to get himself into a lot of unfortunate situations that would make the most positive person feel like slitting their wrists.

So we're trying to take a more aggressive holistic approach to mind/body/environment.

Last fall, in a class we took together---Public Speaking---we met a very charismatic fellow student who was very open about his struggle with Bi-Polar disorder. We talked with him between class periods in the quad and other times, and he said something really profound to the Big Kid. It flew over the kid's head, but it stayed with me.

And recently both the kid's doctor and therapist mentioned it, but in different terms.

The fellow student said, "Garbage in, Garbage out".

The first couple of speeches and class exercises The Big Kid used as his favorite topics were music. The bands he chose to focus on were beyond hard rock. We prefer to call it "the music of the devil". The fellow student noticed, because he'd been there, done that.

I remember when I was a teen and we waited for the folks to leave the house before blasting our stereos with Van Halen and the second 80's incarnation of the Rolling Stones. And the forgettable hair bands. I didn't want my kid to have to do that. So I allowed him some time to blast his crap in the house, in his room, during the day.

But after listening to 15-20 minutes of Mudvayne and Mushroomhead----I was ready for some freaking Ativan myself. The craptastic shit blasted over and over can induce a panic attack in the most ordinary of persons.

There is no discernable beat. There is no discernable melody. The only people who could dance to it is people who are in the midst of having seizures. WTF? No wonder the kid is feeling scattered!

The good thing is that The Kid actually is willing to listen to other forms of music. He likes Seal, and a couple of other artists. He's tired of feeling bad, and is willing to participate.

I'm trying to put together a disc of positive affirmation music for him to listen to when he's feeling depressed. This is what I've gotten off the top of my head:

Beautiful---Christina Agulara
You Gotta Be---Desiree
I Hope You Dance---Leanne Womack
Rubberband Man---The Spinners
Live Like You Were Dying---Tim McGraw
Thank You---Dido

That's all I got.

Anybody have something I can add?



Me said...

Bad day - Daniel Powter (I thought it was quite uplifting)
You're beautiful - james blunt (but i think it's about unrequited love, am not sure if that works)
i know this is kind of old but how about What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
I'm a Believer - Smash Mouth, remake from The Monkees, I think.
You've got a friend - which is one of those Randy Newman songs
The Sweet Escape - Gwent Stefani (Ijust love the music to this)
I hope that helps. I'll write more if I can think of any more.
Big Kid - please know that you are thought of and prayed for/

golfwidow said...

I suggest I Want You to Want Me by Cheap Trick, because it makes absolutely no sense but it is nearly impossible to listen to without getting cheered up, at least a little.

Kate said...

Pretty much anything by the Monkees, most of their songs are upbeat and cheerful. And I have always found Two Princes by the Spin Doctors quite jolly, it's not life affirming, but it is a cheerful song that you can easily sing along with. I'm looking at my playlist, but I can't see anything else - I'll have a think and get back to you if I have any more suggestions.

Kate said...

Me again - just noticed, The Bartender and the Thief by The Stereophonics, and Make Me Smile by Steve Harley. Neither song is particularly profound, but they are upbeat and cheer me up when I hear them.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

This might be a little lame, but what about "Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson? It is all about positive change....also it is from the time before he completely went over to the weird side.

I will tell you a song that is so silly, both of my kids love it (the clean version, of course) "Fergalicious" the lyrics are absurd, but the beat is infectious!

Good luck!

LeRoy Dissing said...

My son went through the same in terms of music. He listened to that "noise" a lot. I am reluctant to call it music for the very reasons you listed.

What happened? He simply "outgrew" it. He is still only 19 and a freshman but he moved on. He is still pretty ecletic in his music but now listens to mostly instrumental guitar or classical stuff. He is big into his guitar and I think that helped him realize that Mudvayne and the rest were not playing anything spectacular. That is my take on what happened. Prayer didn't hurt either. And never give up hope.

Brenda said...

I mostly listen to classic rock and country music, can't think of any classic rock right now but these country songs come to mind.

If You're Going Through Hell - Rodney Atkins

Life is a Highway - Rascal Flats

Stand - Rascal Flats

Christi said...

How about nature sounds? I used to listen to techno when I was programming, but I'd get frustrated when I hit a wall. When I switched over to nature sounds (like frogs at a bayou, stuff like that) I really calmed down. I honestly think that I can think more clearly listening to birds & frogs.

Rootietoot said...

What about instrumental stuff? I'm bipolar as well (tho not rapid cycling), and I use music to calm a manic spell (not exclusively, meds too, but it helps)
Since I am 41 and despise anything with words, I listen to alot of Jazz. Pat Metheny (guitar), Wynton Marsalis(trumpet), Dave Grusin(piano),that sort of thing. Blues are good as well...who doesn't love B.B. King? If he's dead set on rock- how about Eric Clapton or The Allman Brothers?
You can YouTube the jazz, to get a preview. I HIGHLY recommend Pat Metheny's "Last Train Home" the long version.

Pendullum said...


What a road the two of you are on...
I have racked my wee brain with this... But here are a few I could think of...

How bout a few Beatles tunes...

Hey Jude
Across the Universe
Dear Prudence

Or maybe some Bob Marley
One Love

How bout Aretha Franklin RESPECT

Or maybe so that he knows you are there

Trouble Me by 10,000 Maniacs

Or Get Happy with Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland
The Globe Big Audio Dynamite

The World Exploded In Love All Around me. Bob Schenider
Changes..David Bowie
Don't Fence Me In David Byrne
Shining Star Earth Wind and Fire
Singing In the Rain Gene Kelley

Lust for Life Iggy pop

Feel Good James Brown
Float On Modest Mouse
That's What I like About You The Romanitcs
Ahead by a Century The Tragically Hip
I Can See Clearly Now Johnny Nash
Be Real By???
Beauty By Nelly Furtado(I think)
Hope it is useful...

warcrygirl said...

Hi there! I've got a lot of Oingo Boingo, B52's and "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred. I have tons of music but I'll have to look to see what I have specifically.

Anonymous said...

How about some classic rock from our generation? Rock of Ages - Def Leppard or any thing off of High Infidelity - REO Speedwagon

The Eagles - Greatest Hits 71-79

quinn said...

Hey there ...

This may sound weird but I am gonna say it him other music to listen to is a great idea to counter balance what he is listening to ..especially since he is willing to...

however, there is a big part of me that really believes that the music he is listening to serves a huge purpose...The difficulties your son's medical condition causes him are extremely difficult to go through and I truly think that listening to this type of weird , strong, bizzarre music ..does in a way help him to deal with the chaos that is inside him...

it is not so much that the music is affecting the music can be a release of sort..for's crazy's lack of tune..etc... sounds like it very much mirrors his day to day life and struggles.......and it may be his way of releasing his emotions through it...his musical way of expression...

When he sits and hears it he may do what we all do when we hear a song that deals with a theme we are experiencing..I have had songs that some times make me cry or laugh or dance etc...for him this may be helping him to may help him feel he can release some of the chaos from within him through that music.

I am not sure if I am explaining this properly in words but I hope you kinda see my view.

Deb said...

I don't want to criticize, because I think you are onto a good thing here. But if your son likes that kind of music don't you think it would be best to find good uplifting songs in that genre?

There is a band called Blue October that is a little heavier and has really good uplifting songs about recovery, there second albulm is the best, I don't know the name off hand.

Also have you thought of an even more holistic approach with accupuncture or chinese medicine? I think you are in Colorado, and if so I know there are so many granola eating hippies there that there must be something like that.

For me chinese herbs work. I don't take all the medication that I used to take and I found it was very helpful to get me to stop self medicating. Just a thought!

Good Luck!

Marymurtz said...

"Undiscovered" by James Morrison

Anything by the White Stripes (especially "Denial Twist")

Miss Litzi said...

Hi Attila,
Being a native Californian, I’m going to put in a plug for any of the old Beach Boy tunes. Most of their songs are upbeat and lively, albeit somewhat in the “moldy oldie” category.

TxGoodie said...

Garth Brooks - Standing Outside The Fire and Unanswered Prayers are good positive songs and you can understand and hear all the lyrics without going "huh? what'dhesay?"...'course he might run screaming into the night if you fire up 'country' and he's not into it, but Garth is a bona fide genius when it comes to meaningful lyrics. *MY* favorite is Nobody Gets Off In This Town...

susan said...

I don't have any real suggestions, but, I Hope You Dance got me through a REALLY crappy year. My mom gave me a little book with the lyrics and the CD as well as a little ballet dancing cat ornament. I still keep the cat out to remind me that no matter how hard and crappy things are, they always get better. Good luck with getting your CD together...I'd love to have the playlist when you are finished:)

Stinkypaw said...

I did a cd for a friend of mine when her son, a junkie, was going through a very rough time, and my friend was totally down. I made the cd for her, so if you want, I could send you a copy of it... It would be my pleasure. If you're interested just send me an email!

best of luck with everything, and I think what you're doing is pretty cool!

Annie Drogynous said...

How 'bout instrumental? Guitar is my favorite but there are some good sax ones out there.

sarala said...

I've noticed that the music gets louder as mania comes in. If a bipolar kid enters my office and I can hear the music from a mile away despite headphones I think manic.
I'm not sure the music is harming your son, but some happy stuff may do some good too.
I don't listen to enough music to have a lot of ideas but I discovered two pieces of mood music, Lithium Sunset and Blue from this web site, He has songs about madness listed and depressed songs. He also has some good horse sense about his illness. Just thought I'd let you know.
Good luck.

carmachu said...

Absolutely! My parents got rid of 2 live crew my brother listened to. Garbage in, garbage out!

Pachelbel cannon in D major. Its literally life itself.

if he likes heavier stuff, and positive try Van Halen's you got the touch from thr transformers the movie soundtrack and manowar's carry on.

how about kenny roger's the gambler?

elizabeth said...

Time by Pink Floyd!

Kim Ayres said...

"Lust for Life" Iggy Pop is guaranteed to give me a lift.

Ruth Dynamite said...

Personally, I like Josh Groban but shhhhh...don't tell anyone. Your son would probably roll his eyes if you suggested it, but his voice is an instrument and his lyrics are very positive. Best of luck!

Myron said...

I'm with rootietoot. I like all those she listed. And for soothing (I listened to them on my MP3 dingus while the skin mechanic carved off the basal cell that was on the end of my nose (wear sun block, y'all)) I recommend Diana Krall, Nora Jones, Joe Samples, Tangerine Dream, Hiroshima, etc.

Beth said...

Try Jack Johnson - my boys all like him (and my boys all have extremely varied tastes in music.)

His song "Upside Down" is a good example of his upbeat lyrics and music.

Poor_Statue said...

My sweetie also said that if you can find the first CD by the Ducky Boys (particularly the song Cross the Bear) that it would be well worth it. He said their music just makes you want to get up and feel strong and good.

Terri said...

"Don't Worry, Be Happy Now"...

can't remember the name of the singer... but he was black and it was a great happy song.

I'm sure this wouldn't fly...
but what if you could slip
"Amazing Grace" in there...

Attila The Mom said...

Thanks everybody for all of your wonderful suggestions! Big Kid is excited to try them all out!

Flawed & Disorderly said...

You are SO incredible to me! I don't know why I don't MAKE time to get my daily dose of your blog like my hubby does. I could cry over what a wonderful mom you are--to take classes with him, oh! Wow.

Ironman mentioned your son was BP and ADD or ADHD. I'm going to look for your email address to finish up this comment. If I don't find it, could you email me at No rush. Just wanted to tell you something. Lata!