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Edited by his Mother

My son, Steve, who died May 17, 2004, liked to write. We have boxes of his papers: notebooks, screenplays, a novel or two, and a journal that he began as part of a class project while working towards his teaching credential. Thus far I've only been able to read the journal.

During his senior year of college Steve was diagnosed as bipolar. He started taking Lithium, dropped out of school, and tried to figure out life. Early in 1991 he drove from the Bay Area to see his grandparents in Utah. Something happened to him near Elko—he woke up with his car stuck on an embankment, his contact lenses missing, and with no idea where he was or how he’d gotten there. He'd had a seizure. A few months later we found out he had a brain tumor. He had surgery, but he was left with a seizure disorder. Here in his journal, four years later, (1994) he describes his mania. I find it pretty interesting, but then I am his mother.

Steve writes:

Yes, I was manic. I liked it too. I might have been paranoid, but not that bad. Okay, I watched a horrible movie with a not very good actress in it hundreds of times, but lots of people do that. I never dressed up funny, or as a character from the movie. I wasn’t getting my school work done. But I was getting lots of writing done. Tons. Millions of words. . . . Got to be a better typist, and I think my spelling improved. That’s not the main reason why I would want to be manic like I was manic then. There was the sense of power. The sense of being a god.

Sitting at my computer creating worlds, I was the final arbitrator of who lived and died. Of the punishments and rewards. I burned with the kind of energy that’s hard to sustain without an early death. You have to die young. Mania burns you up. I would drink heavily just so I could calm down.

Being a god is hard to give up. Just ask any god who lost their job. It’s not just fun, it’s very intoxicating. It brings too a sense of peace most of the time. After all, you know everything is going to turn out in the end (even if it’s going to shit around you.) Blind optimism yes, but it feels good. Can you see what I’m saying? To have fire at the fingertips. To be something more than everyone else, and know it. A heightened awareness. A different plane of reality. It doesn’t look like reality to those not in your world, but how much of the world is perceptions anyway? People only believe what they see, what they feel, what they want to believe. And so it was that I believed what I wanted to believe. A different world. Not with more colors (as an acid trip might produce, though I can’t speak from experience) but with a different vibrance.

I know this: When I was in Elko I knew as I knew my name that the Nevada Highway Patrol was coming to get me because I had killed someone. I knew it as much as people believe in God, or in the way I know gravity affects me. I knew it, but it wasn’t true. However, my brain had come to believe it. I knew the truth, and for awhile there I couldn’t have been persuaded that it wasn’t true.

Which brings me back to history. People know they have for example seen the Virgin Mary. How much of it isn’t a hallucination? I can speak from experience it is real. If someone says they saw the Virgin Mary and pass a lie detector test, and don’t look smart enough to lie, they are telling the truth. The truth as they see it, and that’s what counts.

Who knows, maybe there’s a warrant for my arrest, only I don’t think so. I didn’t hear anything about anyone being killed in Elko, and it’s a small enough town I would have noticed something on it.

[For a continuation of his life story go to The Gap page.


This website is the work of Steve's parents:

Susan and Dave Howard. We are responsible for the content.

You can contact us at dshoward(at sign)usa.net