The end of 2018 ended in a bang and not in a good way. I was still driving for UBER/Lyft to make some money. Although I had been proud to boast over two and a half years that I had been sober, the truth of the matter is that I had picked up smoking a lot of pot and started micro-dosing on a designer drug call TANQ which contained a combination of cocaine, methamphetamine, barbiturates, and ecstasy. It started a slow process of inducing mania. I forgot to renew my medication for Abilify and at the last minute, was rejected due to a switch in insurance policies. So I went for four days without my psych meds and started to become elated.
On December 21, 2018, my friends in a Grateful Dead cover band were playing at the Lounge. They invited me up on stage to sing and play drums. I was in my perfect element. As the clock struck 12:00am, I broke into a solo version of the Midnight Hour. "I'm going to wait till the midnight hour till my love come tumbling down...:" The crowd dissipated into the parking lot and I found myself helping some kid that rolled up to the bar on heroin and was having a tough time. I was going to call 911 but, a friend of a friend of mine stopped me in my tracks and stuck a huge key bump of TANQ in front of me.
What was I to do? My coping skills and defense mechanisms went to the wayside with the mania. I was feeling on top of the world after just having been in the spotlight. Without hesitation, I went for it. Little did I know, that one snort of TANQ was going to send me on a 10-day bout of insomnia and delirium.
I know how to handle my highs. I didn't lose my mind or anything, but simply couldn't get to sleep for days on end. I finally showed up at my parents' house at 6:30am after UBER riding all night. They immediately knew I was manic. Within an hour they convinced me it was time to go to the mental hospital again - Aurora Behavioral Health Center.
This trip to the hospital proved NOT to be a trip to Hollywood. My roommate was from the most dangerous gang on the continent - M13. Most of the people in my ward were detoxing from Fentanyl and heroin. Others, were schizophrenic or bipolar. Luckily we had 12 step programs every day where the truth came out of most of these criminals.
The Psychiatrists were coming and going from odd Christmas vacation schedules. I ended up seeing 4 psychiatrists in less than 30 days, all of whom wanted to change up my medication regime and start all over. I was hallucinating heavily while in there and at one point made a huge scene by taking myself hostage and pretending to kill myself. I charged at the nursing staff at one point after being cornered by about 20 of them. I ran towards them and turned around and shouted, "trust fall". They didn't come to my rescue and I fell 6'2" right on my head on the hardwood floor. It was so much force they told me it felt like a mini earthquake when my skull popped on the floor. Luckily, I only got a concussion from the incident. I literally could have died I hit the ground so hard.
I barely made it out alive and I was clearly still manic. In February, I still had a huge stack of Presidential cards and the campaign was back on. I managed to pass them out in a rigorous fashion unlike before to some of the alpha males in my different circles of friends, educators and business associates including the Freemasons. I even spent time passing the cards out at a Thunderbird event and introducing myself as a viable candidate for the Libertarian Party.
Inside my mind, I did not think I was going to lose the election of 2020 to Donald Trump. I was way cooler than him and knew much more about world affairs and how to govern a country. In addition, I was going to have the world recognize me as the Savior as soon as I took that podium on the National Mall in the late summer of 2020. Was I nuts? Completely. Totally off the mark. Not even close. A Libertarian couldn't win even if he were truly the messiah. And I couldn't win the Libertarian nomination no matter how I tried.
Manic - Denny's Bomb threat. Back to Banner, got out totally manic, started the Ladder's program at Terros. Propose to Sarah - didn't remember. Got the little doll from the pawnshop.
Statements by Joseph P. Driessen
I, Joseph P. Driessen, saw a suspicious vehicle parked directly under my 3rd story apartment on 2/15/19. The van was suspicious to me because it was a custom van with stickers covering its windows that was reminiscent of the van in Florida that belonged to, Cesar Sayoc, who sent bombs through the mail to top Democratic politicians. The scene also reminded me of the Oklahoma City bombing with the van parked right next to the building. Also, note that my sister was in Tower One of the WTC on 9/11/01 and escaped with her life. That is also a bipolar trigger for me, perhaps a little PTSD as well. Nevertheless, I knew the van was illegally parked because it was in a private lot before business hours. I then called 911 with good intentions to report the suspicious vehicle.
I thought at the time I was doing the right thing. Days later in retrospect, I knew I was acting out of a heightened sense of paranoia attributed to an onset of a manic episode. I suffer from mental illness, namely, schizoaffective disorder bipolar type. Had I been of sound mind, I still would have called in the van. I might not have immediately suspected an explosive on board the vehicle. The reality was that I had not slept for five consecutive days prior to the incident due to an unforeseen insurance complication that prohibited me from getting my psychiatric medicine (Abilify).
I was still was in a manic episode characterized by common symptoms including increased irritability, severe insomnia, grandiose notions, increased speed and volume of speech, disconnected and racing thoughts, markedly increased energy and activity level and, impaired judgment. I also suffered from hyper-religious and hyper-political thinking, proclaiming that I was Jesus Christ the Savior that was running for President of the United States. When the mania wanes, these two impossible goals are of no interest to me.
I recognized the mania was in its beginning stages, so I voluntarily checked myself into Aurora Behavioral Health Center on 12/22/18. The doctors tried four medication changes over the course of thirty days that did not produce beneficial results after close to a month of efforts. I was released from the hospital on January 20. In hindsight, it was too soon. I was still rather manic.
My mental healthcare was transitioned from Aurora to Lifewell Behavioral Health Center under the care Dr. Jordan who continues to be my psychiatrist. I was assigned a Case Manager, Cynthia Quitanilla. Dr. Jordan significantly cut back on my meds leaving me with my original medications; except Lithium had been eliminated.
About eight law enforcement officers came to the scene. Some went to the vehicle in question while others came to meet me in front of Denny’s. An officer started to interrogate me, and after about five minutes, he arrested me for having provided false information. After reading the police report a week later, it was very evident that I was at the peak of a bipolar manic episode. I vaguely recollect what I had said to the law officers at the scene. I was completely delusional. I was very open with the police officer explaining to him that I was having a manic episode and that I was SMI, hence, the delusional talk about a bomb.
At one point, according to the report, I told the officer I was Jesus Christ, which is a recurring theme with me when I have a chemical imbalance. I told one of the other officers I was running for President Jesus of the Americas. I do remember that at one point I identified myself as Severely Mentally Ill (SMI) diagnosed bipolar disorder and was experiencing delusions of grandeur. Tense scenes involving the authorities are a major trigger for me. In the end, I was issued a citation for having provided false information.
Throughout my illness, I have made some mistakes that were out of character such as the incident in question on 2/15/19 whereby I had a lapse of good reason and judgment. My impaired judgment was attributed to a chemical imbalance that started in mid-December of 2018. I can say for certain that I did not mean to prank the police. I was responding to what was perceived as a real threat to the tenants in my apartment complex including my fiancée. I am regretful and profusely apologize to the officers for having embellished the facts of the situation. I would never have reported false information had I been of sound mind. Never did I wish to harm anybody mentally nor physically. I meant to be the hero Good Samaritan with true intentions but ended up incarcerated instead due to my mental illness. The officer arrested me and transported me to jail. I had explained that I had a meeting with my psychiatrist later that same morning.
A Path to Mental Wellness
I was able to make the appointment, however, it was concluded by my family that I needed to go to
inpatient care again knowing the medication I was on wasn’t working, but rather exacerbating my mental illness. Within 24 hours I was admitted into inpatient care at Banner Behavioral Hospital in Scottsdale. I was there for approximately two weeks, allowing the medicine to produce stability and reduce mood swings. My doctor there added back lithium to my medications.
Right after getting out of Banner Behavioral, I registered for a four-month mental health treatment program at Terros called the Ladder program. I have completed two-months and one week of
this intensive outpatient program that goes Monday through Friday from 9:30am – 3:00pm. The LADDER program stands for Life Affirming, Dual Diagnosis, Education and Recovery. It is the main program for all patients going through Terros for the first time. It includes counseling and peer support on a group and individual basis. I’m learning about symptoms and coping skills using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy so that I be more grounded in future stressful situations.
Testament to Joseph’s Character
The following statements illustrate that I am a law abiding, upstanding member of society and the Scottsdale community. I am classified by my family and peers as a humanitarian over the past two decades due to my charitable works for the less privileged, namely the destitute homeless with mental illness, at-risk teens and foster children. I devote most of my time giving back to the community because I also suffer from bipolar disorder since the age of 19 and possess a lot of EMPATHY. I have suffered through the depths of months-long depression as well as the heights of chronic mania without any charges filed against me by the authorities. I am grateful for the manner in which the police officers handled the situation by letting me calm down in holding cell, and subsequently released me to my fiancée hours later so I could make my appointment with my psychiatrist that morning.
I am an exemplary family member and a close friend to many. Throughout my whole life, I have achieved extraordinary educational and professional accomplishments for someone that has been
diagnosed as being Severely Mentally Ill(SMI). I am a high-functioning person with bipolar disorder along two of my sisters. The disease is genetic. My whole family works as a team to help when one of us is in trouble.
Giving Back to Society
Within my circles of influence in my professional and personal career my peers recognize me as an exemplary character and a philanthropic contributor to society who inspires others to also give back. The following lists of activities illustrate my kindness and generosity towards others. I am an altruist at heart, a devout Christian and an active humanitarian.
- I run an unincorporated event planning company called Neutron Productions, which promotes concert events strictly to raise funds for the less privileged such as:
- Phoenix Rescue Mission (homeless)
- At-Risk teens
- Let’s Be Better Humans (homeless outreach + awareness)
- ASU Project Humanities (homeless outreach)
- I have been volunteering at the St Vincent de Paul in the downtown Phoenix food kitchen twice a month with fellow brothers of the Scottish Rite Masons for over three years now to serve lunch to an average of 700 homeless people.
- I devote my time every December for the Salvation Army for the last ten years.
- I volunteered to lead the United Way fundraiser on the Acxiom corporate campus.
- I headed up the fundraising efforts and was the chairman of a real estate golf tournament that raised money for children with heart problems called “Have a Heart”
- I joined Masonic Shrine this year to aid children with special medical needs, i.e. help for burn victims at children’s hospitals.