How Willie Nelson Triggered My First Manic Episode

It was 1978, and I was in my freshman year at the University of Texas in Austin. Sitting in my dorm room waiting for my roommate to get back from a date it was about 11:30pm. I was studying for a German class that had a mid-term exam the next day. Ich bin Verucht. (I’m crazy)

T​hat is where this adventure begins…


(Door opens)

E​d walks into the room and slams the door.

“​Hey brother, what’s going on? I thought you had a hot date?”, I said.


E​d opened his backpack and pulled out a bottle of Beam, opened the bottle and took a long swig.

“​Ahhhhhh. I needed that. The damn girl wanted to go home and study for tomorrow’s German exam. I wanted to go to the Willie Nelson concert in the park and lay on a blanket and spoon.”, he grunted.

“​Yeah well, I’ve been studying for the exam but I’m kinda burned out. Too bad the concert is probably over by now wasn’t it suppose to start at 9pm? Probably be over at 12”, I said.

“​I don’t care I want to see Willie, so I’m going to the park, you in?”, he asked.

“​Well even if we only get to see the last few songs that would be worth it, sure let’s go see what we can see.”, I answered. 

W​e left the dorm and got in my old Ford 1966 step-side pickup with my dirt-bike in the back. Driving to the park from the dorm was only about a 10-minute dash. We spent more time trying to find a parking place then it took to drive there, but we were not going to be detoured. I found a spot where I could drive up unto the grass. At least I wasn’t on the road, and we didn’t want to waste any more time looking for the perfect parking spot.

A​s we walked across a field of grass I could hear the sound of “Whiskey River take my mind…don’t let her memory torture me”. I was getting excited now. But when we got up closer we saw that the area for the concert was roped off and there was a guy at the gate taking money.

I said to the guy, “Hey, how much to get in?”

“It’s $5 man, but the concert is only going to last til midnight, so I don’t know if it would be worth it for ya. Sorry.”, he replied.

I turned to Ed and looked at him. 

“​Well, should we go someplace else?”

E​d said, “I came to see Willie. I’m going to see Willie.”

Ed turned to the security guy and asked, “Will you take $5 for the both of us? I mean we came all the way down here, and my girl just dumped me for a German test. Come on man, have a heart.”

T​he guard looked at the both of us and just said we could go in and to never-mind the $5 just have a good time. Oh yeah, that is what I’m talking about,

W​hen we got in there were people leaving and there was trash on the ground. Mostly beer cans next to full trash bins. But there was a stage and the band was taking a break.

I thought to myself, well it looks like the concert is over, and we are out of luck.

T​hen Willie came back to the stage with his guitar followed by the rest of the band.

“​Whiskey River take my mind…” started up again with gusto.

D​amn he was just singing that not too long ago. It seems like Willie sings that after every break and what I didn’t know until 3 hours later that Willie sang that song 17 times that night. He didn’t stop there. It was past midnight and things were not slowing down, In fact Willie and his band played for another 3 hours, Wow! We got in free and the show was awesome.

I could see people lighting up and smoking joints. It smelled of Willie weed. That was 30 years before Willie Nelson actually started a brand of weed called “Willie’s Reserve”. But I went up to a girl that was smoking and gave her a shy smile. She passed me the joint and I took it from her happily.

A​fter a couple of long draws I passed it back to her.

“​What’s your name? Mine is Lance”, I asked her.

S​he took a long draw and held the smoke in for what seemed like a minute, but was probably only 10 seconds. Then she coughed and blew out the smoke tapping the ashes on the ground.

“​Amy. Amy Jo is my name, nice to meet you Lance”, she said and then smiled.

E​d came over and pulled out his bottle of Jim Beam and took a swig, He held the bottle out to Amy Jo and asked if she wanted some. They traded joint for Beam.

W​e must of hung out and chilled to the music for about 5 Whiskey Rivers which was about 2 hours. (They played other songs between but this one I remembered.)

A​my, Ed and I were feeling no pain cuz we were like in Luckinbach Texas in our minds. The weed and Beam were tripping us out, and we swayed to the music.

I came closer looking at Amy and said, “I think you need a hug.”

S​he said, “I think I need more than a hug” and she came closer and kissed me. Right on the lips. I smiled, paused and then leaned in and gave her another long slow kiss with hints of Beam and weed on my tongue. Her arms grasped me and her right hand held on to the back of my neck. We were necking in the park, and I was high as a kite.

I​t was 3am and WIllie took the mike and said, “I’m glad you guys came out tonight. You are like family to me, all of you belong. We want to leave you with this last song, Amazing Grace”.

A​mazing grace was what I was going to need if I was going to make my 8am German class. Crap.


I didn’t hear the alarm clock go off because I forgot to set it. I must of come in around 4:20am and was still buzzing from the Beam and reeling from the kiss. I couldn’t remember too much but I figured I had a good time. On the floor was a piece of paper with some writing. I looked at it and saw a number signed Amy Jo. Whew wee. I did have a good time last night or early morning I thought.

E​d wasn’t in the room. Either he found a girl to go home with, or he was in German class taking the exam as it was now 9:30am and class was from 8 to 10. I had totally missed the exam and the whole class. I didn’t care at this point now, but I would have to go see the professor and tell him I was sick and needed a remake.

I looked out the window from the 3rd floor down at the street and saw that my truck was not in its normal parking spot or anywhere else on the street to be found. I guess I had left it at the park and walked home. Jeez I had blacked out.  I either walked home or had been given a ride cuz I didn’t have cab fare.

W​alking the 2 miles from Jester Dorm to the park near the Capital grounds, I didn’t feel hung over. In fact, I was still feeling pretty high and happy for having stayed out all night. No matter, I was going to take a mental health day and blow off all my other classes which was one. A computer science programming class in Fortran, which I didn’t have trouble with cuz I was good at math.

W​hen I got to the truck, I noticed that my dirt bike wasn’t in the back anymore. Someone must of borrowed it. Great. I got in and fired up Smokey. (I called my truck Smokey after the pony I had growing up as a kid. A present from my Dad on my 5th birthday.)

I​nstead of going home, I had a vision to go to Hippy Hollow today. Hippy Hollow was on Lake Travis and was a spot for nudist. I felt pretty confident that I could go and chill out with some hippies. So that is where I started to drive. Besides, I didn’t have my bathing suit nor anything with me except my back pack with a paperback book titled “Narnia Chronicles”. I was going to do down to the nudist swimming hole, find a spot and read a book. That was the plan. 

I​t was not too long before I was on the winding road to Lake Travis and only 30 minutes til I pulled up to a side road that I knew went down to the lake and a boat ramp. I parked and got out with my backpack.

I could hear laughing and splashing as I got nearer the water. There was about 30 people all hung out enjoying the sun. Yeppers it was the right place cuz everybody was nude. I found a spot close to the water, and a grassy area with not too many rocks. It was rocky all around.

I put my pack down and took off my clothes. Shoes, socks, pants, under-wear, but decided to leave my t-shirt on. It said, “Fish naked, show off your pole.” There was a girl looking at me that wore nothing but cowgirl boots and a hat. She had a BudLight in her hand and was dancing to some music. It wasn’t Whiskey River but it didn’t matter, I couldn’t care less what she was playing as she was sun-tanned and gorgeous.

I sat down on the grass and pulled out my book, I’m going get me some Aslan and Narnia critters in my brain. Relax. Restore. Repeat. This was my plan and a pretty good one I thought.

I​ started thinking about my German class and the exam. What was I going to say to the professor and when was I going to go see him. Awww, tomorrow I can go to his office and plead for mercy.

T​he day went as I had planned. There were blue skies looking at me. Nothing but blue skies did I see. And of course I saw the buxomed cowgirl all tan and svelte. When it was 4, I decided I had sun-burned enough and had finished my book. It was time to go home and take a nap. The only thing was I wasn’t tired. The reverse in fact, I felt energized. Super charged. My mind was racing and I had all kinds of ideas about Amy Jo, the music, my motorcycle possibly starting a band. 

I was a guitar player and sang. A singer-songwriter that learned to play the guitar in Kentucky from a pig farmer that played the banjo near my Uncle Leo’s farm. 

I spent 5 summers at my Uncle Leo’s farm and I had a girlfriend there named Denise. I chuckled at the thought because my older cousins both had a crush on Denise, and I was only 14 then when I met her at a barn dance. I went up to her and said, “Hi, I’m Lance from Texas”. That was all it took to dance with her all night long. She was 18 which was 4 years older, but we clicked and all summer long we stuck together like corn on a cob. She taught me wondrous things. Smiling now.

O​k, back to earth or should I just fly home. I opted to drive my truck back to the dorm.

The next day I was still feeling pretty high. I didn’t think that weed lasted that long, but maybe Amy Jo had some magic weed or something. I felt like going to the BSC. That was the Biblical Studies Center where I went to church and hung out with other spiritual seeking college students. Besides they went on trips to camps and did things on campus. Ed and I both went there together almost every Sunday and Wednesday nights. 

I took a course in the book of Luke from Tony Ash which was my favorite teacher. He made everything seem so easy to understand. He knew Greek, and he also taught my favorite class which was a survey of all of C.S. Lewis’s works. The Chronicles of Narnia was assigned for this week, and I was pleased that I had read the whole book in one day. Good thing cuz there was a test that week.

A​ny ways, my Luke class was at 10am and that gave me enough time to get some coffee and sit in the library of the BSC waiting for class to begin. Only Ed and I were signed up for the class. I felt like we were getting some quality time with Tony. He loved teaching. He loved the book of Luke. Luke the doctor he would say, only he would just call him the Doctor.

C​lass was in an upper room in the BSC and there were windows with bright sunlight shining into the room. We all sat around a long table with our bibles and commentaries. The commentary was written by Tony, it was his book we referenced most of the time outside of just reading the bible.

C​lass began, and I was assigned to read. After about twenty minutes into the class, I noticed that Ed had put his head down on the table. I looked over at Tony, and he was also asleep. The sunshine had made the room really warm and the sound of my voice reading monotone had made it the perfect nap time. I laugh at this today, that I put the professor to sleep.

O​h damn, the professor, I needed to go see my professor for my German class. I ddn’t want to go alone so after bible class, (we all woke up) I asked Ed if he had taken the exam. He said no, he had blown off class like me and had spent the night at a girl’s dorm room whom he had met at the park.

I asked him, I don’t remember anything about that night but the beginning and meeting Amy Jo. He said oh yeah you and Amy were getting along good, so I left to go dance with this girl I met there.

S​o we both needed to go see the German teacher together and beg for a chance to retake the exam on another day. We got to the office the hours posted were stating that the professor should be in. I knocked on the door and heard a voice say to come inside.

T​here he was, our German teacher. I looked at him and he looked at me. I was about ready to open my mouth and explain myself when he spoke up first.

“​Boys”, he said “This is your lucky day!”

H​e continued, “I know you both skipped my class, missed my class and had the hemorrhagic flu or something of the sort but I have some news that will make you extremely happy.”

“Well, yes we did miss the class, and I am sorry but…”, I started to say til he cut me off by raising a hand.

“I know, I know you want to take the exam another time. That won’t be necessary as I am leaving the college. I am taking a job in Industry as a paid consultant. I will be making a lot more money and I have to start my new job next week. Which means that there will be no more German class this semester, but you would get your grades. Now, by missing the class you get an F and that will bring your C average to a D average.”, he said.

I thought oh God I’m going to get a D at least it not an F, but my mom ain’t going to be too thrilled with that news.

“​And Boys, the lucky thing for you is that I am going to grade on a special curve, because I am leaving the course. Both of you are going to get an ‘A’. That is my parting gift to you.”, he smiled when he said it.

“​I, I can’t believe it. Well thank you. Thank you and good luck to you.”, I said.

O​ver the next few weeks I didn’t sleep much at night. I was a regular chatter box with ideas and dreams whenever I was around anyone. I spent some time with Amy Jo when we went to a movie. I could tell we were going to be good friends and I made sure that I treated her with respect cuz I wanted to keep her around. Besides not sleeping at night too well, and being the life of the party which wasn’t me. I was an introvert, a nerd. But I smoked a lot of weed and figured that was what was making me so hyper.’

I dreamed that Amy Jo and I would get married some day and that I would maybe be an engineer. No, maybe I would be an astronaut or a pilot. Or later on a Senator!

I was having grand dreams. Delusions.

N​o sleep. Dreams beyond belief. Racing thoughts. Chatter-box. And feeling very sexy around Amy Jo all the time.

W​hat I didn’t know at the time was I was in a manic episode. I was having bipolar symptoms before I even knew what it was.

W​hat caused all of this? Was it the weed? Was it the beam? Was it the flu?

N​ope, it was the lack of sleep and staying up all night at the Willie concert. And maybe some of it was the weed. (THC can provoke psychosis in some people).

I still today believe that my manic symptoms were caused by staying up and going to the Willie Nelson concert in the park.

I​ never saw my motorcycle again, but I didn’t care too much I found Amy Jo instead out of the thing.

T​hat is why I believe that Willie Nelson caused me (triggered) my first manic episode. More to follow over the 40 years of life that bring me up to the current day.

Sleep is not over-rated. I am triggered by lack of sleep. I sometimes like today, cut my sleep hours by 3 hours so that I could get a little boost. That is what I needed to get creative, and courageous enough to write this post.

Thank you Willie, thank you Beam and God Bless Amy Jo wherever you are.

If you got a kick out of this, could you buy me a coffee?


Just another old moody musician that smokes weed

Hi Bbqdad here.

I have bipolar disorder and PTSD.

For 40 years I lived untreated and could not find any relief for my symptoms because I was stubborn and didn’t believe my diagnosis.

All during this time, I had manic episodes come and go about every summer and depression in the winter. Seasonal trigger from light and darkness in Alaska. Everyone is depressed in the winter and everyone acts manic and doesn’t sleep in the summer with 24 hours of daylight.

I lost jobs because I couldn’t sit at a desk or stop engaging with other co-workers. I couldn’t stop flirting with one co-worker. She filed a complaint I found out at my firing.

It has caused me to spend thousands of dollars on cars, trailers, land, guitars, women and drugs. Mostly LSD and mushrooms. Although a girl got me to try heroin and meth once. I just couldn’t say no to her. I never got hooked on anything, as I only did it recreationally. And being Manic I was happy and high already, so I wasn’t really needing anything else to feel good. I just did stuff for fun.

I wanted and still want to be a rock star.

I was living my mantra, “sex, drugs, and rock n roll“. Maybe that is why all the bad behavior. (nope psychosis/delusions of grandeur, oh my!)

That’s mania for ya.

But year after year of unhealthy living and bad decisions the symptoms kept getting worst.

Three years ago I had severe manic episodes that lasted for 6 months. I lost my job, apartment and started living in my truck.

I had no money for gas. I stood on the side of the road with my guitar and an empty gas can. A lady in an office building came down from her penthouse suite and gave me $20 for gas. That got me going again.

I made money singing on the street. I gave rides to drug dealers and homeless people. But I was afraid for my life, struggled for food and gas every day.

I met a girl.

She was 25 years old with red hair and dimples. I asked her if she needed a ride. She said yeah. We had a thing, went to music festivals all summer together. She never left me all summer and lived in my truck with me. Her name was Kandy Crush.

Kandy could walk up to a gas pump and get the next car over to pay for our gas. She was that good at conning people. She taught me how to survive on the streets.

Then one night, I came back from street singing and couldn’t find the truck. I couldn’t find Kandy. She had the keys to turn the heater on and move the truck if a cop showed up. But now I couldn’t find her, and I was on time when I said I would be back.

I never saw her again.

I was alone on the streets. No truck. No money. I broke down and wept.

This was winter time with snow on the ground. 24 hours of darkness. I was majorly depressed. This losing the truck due to betrayal was a trigger.

I felt so bad that I decided I should just end it.

Then I remembered my kids. What would they feel like if they found out I OD’ed on something? That is what stopped me in my tracks.

I stepped into a business and told them I needed 911.

A police car showed up and took me to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.

I was hospitalized and received treatment. Now, I am stable and want to help others that have the same journey.


I take meds to smooth out my moods. Mood stabilizers they are called. They make me feel flat. No happy. No sad. Well, some sadness but mainly just nothing. Flat.

I don’t feel like playing my guitar. Don’t want to cook or do really anything I like to do. I am grateful that I got another job, but I hate it. At least I can afford to pay rent. And the police found my truck and I got it back. A little damaged but drive able. So that is good. But I still felt flat.

I started smoking weed.

I took a tip from my old friend Willie Nelson from his book “One Hell of a ride” to start smoking weed. I thought why not it’s good enough for Willie, it’s good enough for me.

I was looking to boost my mood (get high) and spur my creativity, so I could write some more songs. I love to write. Music, poetry, blog posts, and now tweets.

So I was on one hand thinking it could make me manic, on the other it could give me relief.

The question was, “Could weed help symptoms of bipolar and PTSD?

Would I get relief? Could it hurt?

I read up a little on cannabis and bipolar and there are mixed reviews. Some very strong arguments that it could provoke mania and psychosis in bipolar people. I was a little concerned, but I decided to go ahead and try it.

Relief from bipolar and PTSD.

Now, I have found that it calms me down and helps me sleep at night which is a great benefit to get 8 hours of deep sleep.

In any case I am an olde moody musician that smokes tomato plants that don’t grow tomatoes. By BbqDad

If you enjoyed this post then Buy Me a Coffee


My Bipolar Blog: Why do I write it?

Why do I write?

I have to answer that question every time I sit down to write a post.

Part of the reason I write is that I enjoy writing and it makes me happy. It relaxes my mind and takes me away from manic racing thoughts. When I write, I am too busy to listen to my other thoughts. I am focused on my writing.

Who am I writing for?

Over the last 40 years I have ridden a roller-coaster called bipolar disorder. I have been hospitalized several times, lived on the streets in my truck, thought about killing myself and felt like for the longest time I was alone.

I don’t want anyone to have to suffer what I have suffered through with this disease. AND if you have been on the bipolar roller-coaster then you should know now that you are not alone.

If you have bipolar or are a family/friend of someone with bipolar then I’m talking to you.

What is my purpose for this blog?

I want to help others that have bipolar find relief.

Tagline: How to get relief from bipolar using music, meditation and meds.

I am choosing to be vulnerable and share personal stories about mania, depression, addiction and PTSD. I hope that getting to know me this way will give you someone to relate to, and we can start a conversation.

I use this wordpress blog to share my story and how I get relief. But I want to hear your story, and the best way I know is to meet up at my online support community. (depressionforums.org)

The benefit of joining there is that it is anonymous and we can share in forums but also in direct messaging.

On the forums I am pretty visible as “Bbqdad”. I have a profile, a blog and a welcome to new member’s topic which is where to first meet.

You get to vent and share about your own struggles and successes battling bipolar disorder. Besides me there are several people I have met online which can give support and are good listeners.

What are the benefits?

  • You won’t be alone
  • A place to speak your mind
  • to find relief

Together with my blog and a support group, I believe I can help others with bipolar find relief.

If you enjoyed this post then Buy Me a Coffee


Get relief at Depression Forums online support group

I have bipolar disorder and PTSD.

Often times family and friends do not understand or get overwhelmed dealing with my mood changes. At these times an online support group comes in handy.

My go to online support group is depressionforums.org.

The Depression Forums is a depression and mental health social community support group. It has forums on mental health issues including topics on medication.

I take part in several forum topics including:

  • bipolar / depression / ptsd / anxiety
  • how do you feel?
  • medications

Features I like about the support group:

  • the caring people I have met (I talked to someone with the handle coincidentally named bipolar420)
  • One feature allows finding unread or followed content
  • notification when someone likes or quotes content you wrote
  • one on one messaging
  • large about me section (allowed me to include my website link)

Depression Forums Online Support Group Homepage

I would love to meet you over there and chat sometime.

My handle is Bbqdad on the site.

You may be looking to vent to someone, read about other people’s experiences or are looking for some relief from an online support group. If so then, I recommend you visit the Depression Forums at depressionforums.org.


Celebrate First Published Poem

Today I got my first published poem. Celebrate!

One of my followers from 3 years ago is a Doctor MD and has her own blog about Poetry & Medicine. Her blog reads like a magazine is professional and informative about areas of medicine. Her poetry is beautiful and I would recommend anyone that has bipolar or any other mental illness to take a visit to her site.


Published on PhoebeMD.com

Im born free

Free from trauma and heartache. Free of bias. Free.

Now that Im retired I have captured that freedom. My new AT&T networked phone has allowed me to take my music and my writing on the road.

Before I had to stay home and hope that I got a signal on my Verizon network. Mostly it was a roaming signal and 3G. But that was enough for me to reach out and do a FaceTime or make a phone call to talk my kids. It took a while but I had a satisfying relationship with both of my daughters for a few years.

Then something happened. I don’t know exactly what but both of them have decided not to talk to me.

It has been a few months now. A grand baby that I haven’t seen has been born. I feel out of the loop.

I can understand that they can’t be around me and my rockstar lifestyle. To them it seems like I tripped mania and it reminds them of the time I left them.

I had to deal with that mistake and forgive myself. Now my door and my channels are open for either of them to communicate.

In the meantime, Im building a vibe tribe. 5 people that I talk to daily and keep supported through whatever. I just started so I don’t have the 5 yet. But I have one. No maybe two.

Two people to talk to through the winter will drive away the blues.

Speaking of blues. It is cold and dark and depressing in Alaska during the winter. Isolation is the norm.

Because of the depression and alcohol abuse there is a high percentage of suicide.

I am trying to do something to prevent suicide in me by building up my vibe tribe.

To launch the search for my vibe tribe I am declaring August 3rd as MENTAL AID 2022. A day to vibe on mental health.

I am a poet

Verse #1

Your RV woke me as you pulled in next to me

how could I know you would be my friend.

Campfires and kisses and songs from the heart,

Morning coffee we shared our troubles and wants.


I am a poet just so you know

I write whats on my heart of love and woe.

I can’t imagine your pain or grief

I just hope you get through and find some relief.

Verse #2

Your kids are well mannered and smart as a whip.

Definitely loved and taught to respect.

Although I know you’ll never love again.

I hope in time we share coffee again.


I am a poet just so you know

I write whats on my heart of love and woe.

I can’t imagine your pain or grief

I just hope you get through and find some relief.

Verse #3

As the years went by and the kids grew up.

No one at home, no reason to cook.

Although I know you’ll never love again

I’m still standing here beside the road

with my coffee cup in my hand.


I am a poet just so you know

I write whats on my heart of love and woe.

I can’t imagine your pain or grief

I just hope you get through and find some relief.


I am a poet

I am a poet

I am a poet

And I wonder, Could you love me?

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