I ride the line.

As a country and western music fan – I have always admired Johnny Cash and the recent movie of his life reminded me of some of his wonderful music and the obstacles he eventually overcame with the help of his now wife,

Although his song, ‘I ride the line’ was about his personal struggles with alcohol and drugs during his career and the ups and downs of the entertainers life.  It seems to me to reflect perfectly the way that we, as bipolar sufferers, also ride a line.

Thanks to Colleen, Bipolar World owner and founder, the opportunity to write my column has brought me an immense amount of personal strength by the wonderful emails that readers have been kind enough to send me about their lives and how what I have written has echoed in their lives too and suddenly I didn’t feel as alone or as odd or strange.  But it also has given me the wonderful privilege to have a window into fellow sufferer’s lives and see how they have dealt with issues that I face and learn from them.

It is these two things – the reminder of Johnny Cash’s song and the feedback from my column that I have realized that we indeed do live our lives on a line between the possible extremes of the disorder – mania or depression and sometimes life and death.

One contact I had recently with an Australian reader of my website asked a number of very perceptive questions about the possibility of having bipolar disorder.  Permission was asked to ring me and I agreed.  It was a most interesting phone call because so many of the things that I had become used to since being diagnosed were of course, still a mystery to my caller.

Questions like; if I do this sort of thing – is it the bipolar, or is it just me?  How do I tell when my behaviour is the bipolar effecting me or not?  We talked about an hour and my caller felt much more at ease in talking to a professional in the near future, as I made it clear from the outset that I can only relate to my own experiences and stressed that although there are common things that most bipolar sufferers experience, we are all different and have varying degrees of our symptoms and personal quirks.

The phone call helped me too in focusing on my own quirks and what really could be bipolar effected and what is just plain me.

It also helped me in realizing that just like Johnny Cash – I also have a line in my life that I have to try to ride near to.  I thought of it being like the lane lines on the highway, keeping in them keeps us safe and sound and arriving without harm.  Go too far one way and we can go right off the highway of life and go too far the other way, we can go too far off the highway and harm our relationships or other people’s lives.

It is a case of being sensitive to my moods and reactions without being overly sensitive.  To take the advice of our friends and loved ones who have a genuine stake in our wellbeing and to take our medication and the advice from our mental health medicos no matter if they are our psychiatrist, psychologist or family doctor.

The title, “Riding the White Line”, inspired by Johnny Cash’s song and my life’s struggle to stay within the safe zone has now become the working title of what I hope will be a book about my bipolar experiences that I plan to discuss with a publisher later this year.  I hope that if it comes off it will help others as much as you all have done for me.

Graham Brown

4 February 2006

 

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