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“Essentially you’ve ruined your life,” how local man lives, learns with Biopolar 1

Laura Dachenbach

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The Columbus Bar Association is hosting a series of free, public Community Wellness forums beginning this spring, including topics such as “The Science of Happiness,” “Living a Life of Purpose,” “Emotional Intelligence and Wellness,” and “Student Mental Health Issues.” For updates, visit cbalaw.org.

Head space holds a different meaning for Michael Jarosi.

Jarosi seems to keeps an understandable emotional control over the events of his past, where car wrecks and homelessness live. Occasional tears testify to their still-present potency. But Jarosi’s existence is also one of resilience and hope, and his hope is that his story will reduce the loneliness, misunderstandings, and stigma that accompany a path such as his. 

During college, Jarosi was hit by two things. The first was a bolt of lightning. Just after accepting a soccer scholarship to the University of Virginia, Jarosi was on the field when a thunderbolt hit his father. Standing nearby, Jarosi absorbed the current through the metal cleats on his shoes. He was initially rendered unconscious, then experienced a strong sense of vertigo. Jarosi’s father was quickly life-flighted to Grant Hospital and died in the ICU that fall. In a stupor of grief and trauma, Jarosi went through his first three years of college. If campus counseling services were available, he was unaware of them. 

The second was an accident that produced a revelation. During his third summer at college, Jarosi began losing sleep and behaving erratically. The pattern of bizarre behavior escalated until he wrecked his car. Instead of remaining at the scene, he went home and took a nap.

“When people see that, the first assumption is drugs,” said Jarosi. “My soccer coach took me to the emergency room and they did a diagnostic. They checked my heart and my pupils and those didn’t show any signs of illicit drugs. And then they did a blood test […] and there were no drugs in my blood.” 

The doctors concluded that Jarosi had type one bipolar disorder.

The Hurricane Within 

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes both clinical depression and phases of escalating hypomania—an elevated mood characterized by sleeplessness, increased energy, intensified emotions, a decreased inhibition, a lessened regard for consequences, and sometimes psychosis. 

Despite the turbulence in his life, Jarosi continued to function in many areas. He finished school with a professor commenting that Jarosi’s final exam was one of the best he’d ever received. After graduating, Jarosi got a job at a consulting firm where he could use his research and Spanish-language skills. He established significant relationships along the way. For a short time, he believed that bipolar disorder was merely a developmental stage that he could leave in the past.  

However, the increasing productivity Jarosi was experiencing was actually an ominous sign of hypomania that once again led to unstable behavior. The series of hospitalizations that punctuated Jarosi’s adult life began their cycle.

“My hospitalizations could have been the result of a loved one persuading me to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, that was very rarely the case. It was generally court-ordered and by force.”

Gradually, Jarosi came to accept he had a chronic and incurable mental condition that had changed what he had believed would be the forward motion of his life and career. The ebb and flow of his life has contained seemingly contradictory events such as escaping from a psychiatric hospital in Alabama where he had been chemically and physically restrained, as well as graduating from Capital Law School. 

Jarosi often uses the metaphor of a hurricane to describe the cycle of mania and depression, and how it can result in a life that is both productive and destructive.

“Whatever you might try to achieve, you might be on a path to achieving it, or you might achieve it. But then it gets wiped out because of the manic episode and the consequences of [that episode]. Essentially you’ve ruined your life. Significant others, relationship, job, finances, everything is destroyed,” said Jarosi. “So when you then become stabilized, you have to decide what you’re going to do. And that can be different things for different people. You have to make the decision as to where you’re going to pick up with your life. You can be very much starting from scratch.”

Journey to Wellness

At one point, Jarosi became homeless, as many people with mental illness do. For no particular reason, he went to Chicago.

“What many people don’t understand about homelessness, especially when it involves substance abuse and mental illness, is that it’s not that people don’t have anywhere to go. It’s that people don’t have anyone anymore,” Jarosi said. “With serious mental illness, family members and friends can simply no longer handle that person because of the toll the illness has taken on relationships.”

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In Chicago, Jarosi was taken in by a Salvation Army shelter and began some of the practices that he continues today to walk the balance. He attended services at the Salvation Army and witnessed the power of spirituality. He became particularly interested in the Old Testament book of Job. He found a counselor who had served 25 years in prison and gave him a new perspective and a message of hope. He began exchanging letters with his wife to heal their relationship. Today they spend time together after dinner each day, listing things they are thankful for.

“I want to do all the things that I can—all the things that are possible—to stay healthy. I try my best to assemble those things in my life. At the same time, none of those things, and the combination of those things is not a silver bullet.”

Jarosi also follows a regimen of appropriate medication, light therapy, fitness training, and equine therapy.

“Horses help me a lot. They’re a different animal; they’re much different than a dog or a cat. They have different instincts. And they can be very, very dangerous animals. But they can also be incredibly compassionate,” said Jarosi. [There is] power that horses have when you trail ride and you go up and down these very, very steep hills in the Appalachians that humans could not get up and down. You feel the power of the horse underneath you and it’s very primal. I enjoy it and it’s
good therapy.”

Fighting the Stigma

The public stigma surrounding mental health issues is an additional layer of weight for a person living with mental health issues. For Jarosi, it has meant that in career situations, he must conceal much of his past, or find different ways to account for time he has lost in treatment.

“There’s also hard evidence if you do a background check,” Jarosi added. “Somebody wants your academic transcripts. They see semesters off, a dive in your grades.”

As part of his wellness journey, Jarosi has undertaken a personal mission of reducing that stigma, starting with the Columbus Bar Association. He has presented his story for continuing legal education credits, encouraging the legal profession to become a profession where workers can be open about mental illness and the work environment can be part of an individual’s supportive network. He’s also working on Thunderstruck, a memoir.

“If I can help the message of stigma and start in the legal profession, there may be a […] trickle down effect where some people who have the ability to make changes will understand the stigma better. I think that’s possible.”

While bipolar disorder is still a relatively unusual diagnosis, Jarosi believes that his experience and message is helpful for anyone coping with the stresses of life, even if they do not have a specific mental disorder.

“Don’t be ashamed of those things and don’t be ashamed of those feelings and those struggles,” Jarosi advises. “Just because something isn’t a diagnosable mental illness doesn’t mean that [issue] is not something a person is struggling with in their life. Mental health services, I think, can be of assistance to people with different issues, not necessarily [just] a diagnosed psychiatric issue.” •


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Great Apes: Two gorillas coming soon to Columbus Zoo

614now

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is no stranger to primo primates. Colo (RIP) who was both the first gorilla born in captivity and the oldest known gorilla in the world, called the zoo home for 60 wonderful years.

Now, two new additions from a zoo in Wisconsin will be joining the storied Columbus troop:

17-year-old Shalia and her 4 ½-year-old offspring Sulaiman will be transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin sometime in the next few weeks.

When the duo arrive, it will be something of a family reunion. Two-year-old gorilla Zahra is half-sister to Sulaiman, and has been at the Columbus Zoo since 2018.

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Play like a kid at R Adventure Park in the Hocking Hills

Mitch Hooper

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Tucked away from the main road leading into Hocking Hills sits a world that rivals most theme parks you can find. Complete with a multimillion dollar ropes course, 68 miles of riding trails, a speed course, off-road vehicles, zip-lining, a paintballing arena, and a damn roller coaster, this dreamland sounds just like that—a dream. But for Karry Gimmel, owner, curator, imagineer, and engineer—R Adventure Park is every bit of his wildest dreams made into reality.

Upon arriving at the park, we drove up the long drive-way and eventually our playground was unveiled from behind the tall trees. The ropes course towered in the background as Polaris quads, side-by- sides, and three-wheeled Slingshots were scattered about near the front desk area. As gray skies filled the sky, we knew the Ohio weather was going to do its best to give us its worst.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“Don’t worry,” Gimmel assured us. “We have some of our best days when it rains.”

It didn’t take much to convince us. Gimmel has worked and continues to work as an engineer for Disney World—if anyone can be trusted as a reliable source for fun, it’s him. Combine his knowledge of theme parks from Disney World with seemingly unlimited space (thanks, unplotted land!) and a little horsepower, and you have a place where kids, mom, dad, and even grandma can participate.

He took us to the eye-grabbing rope course to begin our day. I’ve never been one to call myself an adrenaline junkie, but heights haven’t really bothered me before. Whether it be the roller coasters at Cedar Point or working summer construction on scaffolding 60+ feet off the ground, I came, I saw, and I conquered. So when I approached the first tier all strapped in my safety harness with my guide on hand, I was befuddled to find how nervous I was.

The first obstacle is an easy one: a balance beam. But to my eyes and brain, it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. And when I took that first step, I was sure it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon and the slightest gust of wind would send me to my doom. Slowly and methodically, I stepped forward making sure to follow OSHA tips like always keep three points planted when at high altitudes. Turns out that summer construction job is paying off.

After making it down and back comfortably, we continued to turn the heat up. Each level higher presented more difficult obstacles—all seemingly insane until you actually complete them. Every obstacle completed might just bump your confidence to the point where you might just try a few backwards, hopping on one foot. But if you’re feeling more comfortable staying on the first tier, there’s no shame in that.

As we finished up the ropes course, the rain seemed to be moving in which made for an appropriate time to switch. We ditched our belays for helmets and safety glasses and made our way to the Polaris side-by-side vehicle. To say this vehicle was covered in dirt, mud, and dust is an understatement. Our driver went to brush some off the seat, but Gimmel quickly stopped him.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that; you’re going to get muddy,” Gimmel said. “Do you want to do the trail, or the ‘trail’ trail?”

Of course, we picked the “trail” trail.

After a crash course in how not to crash, we took off into the woods cruising through the curvy trail surrounded by trees and nature. We continued as tree branches brushed by us and the mud slinging party only grew bigger. Each dry strip of land was a chance for the mud to come free from the tires and these human-seeking dirt bombs were on a mission. Our trek through the trail eventually took us to a speed course where we could finally let loose and see how this machine works. Gimmel knew exactly where to take us: the drag strip.

On the count of three, we screamed off down the quarter-mile dirt strip like a rocket shot out of a cannon. Gimmel, leading us in a one-man side-by-side, gave us a few seconds head start and still managed to smoke us in a cloud of dust. (We’ll get him next time, though.)

All-in-all, the 30-minute adventure on the trails felt like an eternity—in a good way. The twists and turns of the trails remove all your sense of direction, making you feel as though you just traveled miles away from the park. But with a few turns here and there, we wound up right next to the ropes course where our day all started. Of the 68 miles of trails, we covered about three.

The mantra at R Adventure Park is fun for everyone with an added bonus: instant gratification. Gimmel said the park started when he would have business partners visit for various reasons and inevitably, he’d be scrambling for a way to entertain them. He always keeps vehicles nearby and he had a few ATVs on stock which quickly became the favorites for his friends—anyone who’s ever tried to rent quads before knows how much of a headache it can be just finding a rental place, let alone finding trails.

Gimmel recognized the lack of options as well as the high overhead with getting into off-roading. At R Adventure Park, he could offer both without the big investment. But he was going to need some more off-road vehicles to accommodate. After some reluctancy, he was able to work on agreements with Polaris, making R Adventure Park one of the few spots in North America where you can rent, learn, and ride ATVs without having to purchase your own.

There’s another mantra for R Adventure Park and Gimmel says its thanks to his Canadian genes: creating a community. While you’ll find adventure and excitement in nearly every corner here, you will not find lodging. And Gimmel seems like he has no plans for that in the future. Instead, he encourages visitors to look into lodging options near the park as to support his neighbors. For him, it’s not about having the entire pie, it’s about everyone getting a slice. It just helps that his slice comes served in a Polaris Slingshot that can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds.

R Adventure Park is located on 15155 Sauerkraut Road, Logan, Ohio 43138. For hours and operations, visit radventurepark.com.

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Local canine training company won’t heel until human, canine bond is created

614now

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SPONSORED

Everybody knows that dogs are mankind's best friend, but being bffs with someone who speaks a different language can prove difficult. That's where ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC comes in.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC was founded with one goal in mind: to deepen the human canine bond. It's a one-stop-shop for pet owners seeking professional dog training, behavior modification services for aggressive, reactive, and fearful dogs, on- and off-leash obedience coaching, boarding services, grooming, and so much more.

But what makes ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC different from all the other doggy daycares?

"ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC has cracked the code between human and dogs by learning to understand what makes us human, our genetics, how we communicate, how we learn, and knowing about sensory and emotional responses," said owner Jordan Hickle. "Canines vary from their human counterparts, greatly. Having the understanding and knowing what these differences are allows us to go above and beyond in our educational experience."

Hickle attended The Tom Rose School for Professional Dog Trainers in High Ridge, Missouri where he completed both the Professional and Master In-Residence Certification Programs, graduating with honors.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC teaches a fully comprehensive and practical handling course with all their Premier Dog Training Programs. These programs are tailored with your dog at the forefront of the program’s design process, explained Hickle.

And it's not called Columbus’ Premier Dog Training Company for nothing. Hickle leads his pack of experienced, well-informed, passionate professionals on a path towards singularity between you and your canine companion.

"Well behaved dogs who are knowledgeable in how to appropriately interact in our human world are able to accurately do their jobs of being a blood pressure lowering companion," said Hickle. "Not only that, their human companions can sleep peacefully at night knowing their dog is a well-behaved member of society and NOT a nuisance or liability!"

Is your dog a well-behaved member of society, or...not so much? Choosing ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC is choosing commitment, concentration, and a livelong companionship between you and your dog.

"Above all, we recognize that your dog is family!" said Hickle.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC will be moving from Reynoldsburg to 510 East Main Street, Columbus in September. For more information, call (614) 623-4593, email [email protected], or visit apk-9.com

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