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CALL OF THE DAY: Rollercoaster Man is back at the bottom again

The lows make his highs seem even higher.

The lows make his highs seem even higher.

I gave him his nickname only recently: "Rollercoaster Man", so called because his moods can switch from call to call, and because I am trying to expunge ableist language from my vocabulary and "bipolar" is one of the terms. I also don't like to engage in armchair diagnosis online. Armchair speculation? Sure. Diagnosis is best left to the doctors. In Rollercoaster Man's case, he might actually have earned the clinical definition, because he has told me about seeing doctors and spending time in a psychiatric ward. He therefore has a profound distrust of anyone in the "helping professions," and sometimes is so pathetically grateful for our sessions that I think he has maybe not talked to a non-interventionist professional in years.

But his moods shift, like the transmission in a car driven by a bad driver, from 1st to fifth, and back down to first. Or, to get back to the metaphor in his name, he is up and down so dramatically between calls that it can be breathtaking. When he's up, he's talking so excitedly that I barely need to participate in the call at all. If I try to say something or answer him, he just mows over me anyway. When he's up, I just have to keep up, and wonder when the switch will flip. Will it be the next call, or a month from now?

The switch flipped sometime before yesterday's session, this is all I know. A week or two ago he was soaring and rattling on about movies and politics, all of the non-sex-related topics that he loves to pass through while he spends an hour or two or three with me, 30 minutes at a time. Yesterday, he was back to his laconic low, with vast silences echoing in my ear whenever I stopped talking and waited for his response, several seconds of hesitation following even my direct questions. It is fucking EXHAUSTING to do phone sex with this guy when he's like this.

- Is that what you want to hear about, how that girl would be crying underneath you?

"Yes."

- What does she look like?

- Jimmy? (Not his real name)

"Yes."

- Can you tell me what the girl looks like?

"I just want to talk about that scene."

- What do you want to say about it?

- JIMMY.

And so on. Yesterday, I gently snapped and said, Look, it's difficult for me to talk with you when you aren't actually talking with me. Sometimes I need feedback, to know whether you like something, or to know if I'm going down the right path, and when I don't hear you answer me in a timely fashion, I think that you've hung up, and that is not a great way for me to work. He apologized, and I went on: today, I'm just going to tell you a story and not keep checking in with you. I've been talking with you long enough, I think I know what you like. I'm not going to ask you any questions, but it's on you to speak up when you're done.

He agreed, and I felt like a weirdo, just  spinning out this motel-room rape scenario, and then he interrupted me at 30 minutes, when he had purchased an hour-long package, and said, "Okay, that's enough. Do I get to hang on to the rest of that time?" I want to tell him, yes, don't worry about it, I'll tell them that you went short, that once again you could not handle the very thing that you want. But Rollercoaster Man can't seem to help it.

<sigh> Yes, Jimmy. I'll tell them.

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