my … Life Behind Bars
by Jeff Echterling
From the author:
The 20 year struggle of a bipolar bartender in Chicago.
You’ve been to restaurants. You’ve sat, you’ve eaten, you’ve had a good time. Have you ever really thought about the people that bring you your food, the people that make your drinks, the people that do this kind of work every day? Have they had a good day a bad day, is their life treating them well, did they do something to my food? Don’t worry that almost never happens, but what kind of people are they really?
The real people in the business deal with all kinds of people at all levels of tolerance and understanding. It’s hard sometimes to not just hate everyone. To do this kind of work it takes a certain kind of person and that kind of person generally knows how to blow off steam. They know how to not take things too seriously, they know how to have fun, they joke and play with their co-workers, they are a rare breed.
Not unlike anyone else that has worked in a restaurant, nightclub, or bar, I’ve seen and experienced some really crazy shit. This business can drop you into a lifestyle like no other. Add obvious, but untreated and undiagnosed bipolar disorder and the lifestyle is amplified. Those in the medical field can probably relate to the long hours, lack of sleep and just plain bizarre events, but at the end of the day they can always say they were trying to help. We see people at their worst and help them get there. Then, all too often, go there ourselves.
Mr. Echterling has written a work of social importance as well as literary merit in his first published manuscript. my…Life behind Bars is really two books, one is the story of an urban bartender. The other, far more profound, chronicles the story of a young man coming of age in the late twentieth century, and his struggles with a society that doesn’t have a place for him. Echterling tells this story of a man trying to find himself handicapped with bi-polar disorder and its roller-coaster mood swings, his inability to hold a job or a relationship and his increasingly complex relationship with his family. All are drawn out in fine and vivid detail, in a brutally blunt fashion. In Echterling’s book, it’s as if everything is constantly in flux, a dizzying kind of emotional and pragmatic freefall in which you never know what’s going to happen next. And that’s really the whole point…neither does the central character.
my…Life behind Bars is a story of survival, hard won and at a big cost. It isn’t pretentious and you won’t see it everywhere. But if you pick it up, I guarantee that you’ll finish it. It’s that good.
About the Author
Youngest of 7 kids. 5 sisters and 1 brother.
Mom died in ’93 / Dad died in ’11.
Starting at probably the age of 8 I worked at over 100 different places and held dozens of different positions. I haven’t worked since ’05.
Played high school hockey as the goalie. Huge Blackhawks fan. Hardly ever seen without my favorite Blackhawks hat.
Not a comic book geek just a fan of the Batman line.
Diagnosed Bipolar in the fall of ’05 my past behavior and patterns started to make sense and recovery began. However, finding the right combination of medications has been an ongoing struggle and stability and consistency remains a huge issue.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have a so-called ‘normal’ life again.
My greatest accomplishment and what I am most proud of was writing and self-publishing a book. 7 years of work produced a solid story and several copies were sold and it’s still available. Actually completing something in these last few years is nothing short of a miracle.
These days I’m just sorta doing my best. If you want the whole story read the book.
my…Life behind Bars