My childhood is a movie I'd rather not sit through again, but needless to say, the same old familiar, dysfunctional characters take their place on the silver screen of memory. The depressive mother, the deceased father, the abusive stepfather; and 3 siblings vying for an element of normality, thirsty for the fairytale ending.
The most painful thing was always the isolation, the difference, the inability to look or act or feel in any way normal by society's standards. The outsider. This never really changed, however much I learned to act. Of course, in my situation, having to teach and interact and deal with people, it is necessary to put on a mask and deceive, but most of the time I feel like I don't understand the human species at all.
Between childhood and the age of 26 I climbed a steep hill towards my first major bipolar episode. The first signs came with a total obsession with a married man, to the extent where I was following him, watching his house, interrogating his children, with an intensity which was all consuming. At the same time as this, I banished my lover of 9 years from the house, and forbade him to ever contact me again. Shortly after, I had a sudden depressive breakdown and was hospitalised. During this time I would lie around the hospital floors, totally unresponsive to external stimuli. Eventually I recovered and returned to work.I had lost a relationship I dearly cared for, but after the whole incident, my ex was afraid and not prepared to give me any chances. Exactly 1 year later I suddenly broke down into major depression and then became rapid cycling and mixed state. This episode lasted 3 months but I cannot remember exactly the details. I eventually returned to work.
Then came the miracle lithium. I detested it. I abhorred and despised it. It raped me of my emotional spectrum, leaving me with only my head to process and judge the matters of the heart. But it kept me calm and sane. Somewhere along the line, I came to hate the lithium so much that I ditched it. And then, wham bang, back into hospital with a major depressive episode. I remember this very clearly, and it was the most traumatic experience of my life.
The first two weeks I was depressed with complications - hallucinations, auditory and visual. Also complete paranoia. Then suddenly after two weeks I flew into a manic episode and was then statemented for 6 months compulsory treatment. Apparently I was swimming in the corridors, talking gibberish, and completely wild.I took to stripping in the smoker's den in exchange for cigarettes. I would sneak out of the hospital and go on huge spending sprees. It took 4 months to recover and then I was allowed home. During the space of two weeks the mania took over again, and this time I became totally unrestrained. I removed my clothes at parties, tried very hard to seduce many men at once and to convince them all to have sex, spent thousands and thousands of pounds, became violent and aggressive, foulmouthed, and totally manic. I had to visit the hospital as a matter of course, but when they decided to admit me again, I flew off the handle and ran through the corridors screaming and cursing. It took 6 doctors to pin me down, following which I was restrained for 2 hours before being sent to sleep for 2 days before I surfaced, bleary eyed and furious. I was then kept in a small room for a week, with a nurse 24 hours a day for 2 weeks. I was totally wild, denied of my liberty. Forced to take drugs which made me so sick, locked in a little room whenever I became too difficult to handle. Then, of course, there was the lack of sleep, and all the nasty aspects including the paranoia (I was convinced I was going to be shot, and that I was being followed and targetted by a group of hitmen, also that the whole hospital staff and my family were consipiring against me, that I was not sick at all in truth.) This episode lasted until July, and I was finally allowed home at the end of the month.
I know the nurses were only doing their best to help me, but the severity of the whole situation, and the way in which my liberty and freedom were totally stripped away terrified me. The whole manic episode had lasted 9 months, one period of my life I will never forget, and fear with all my heart.
I decided not to stick around, and left UK to work abroad.Typical impulisve manic behaviour! This was a major life decision and has taken a lot of courage and strength. I really was not as well as I would like to have thought. Leaving hospital and leaping into something without support and followup is really very dangerous. I have gone through hell here sometimes. Complications have included social phobias. I cannot walk past a gas cylinder without worrying whether it will explode. At the crisis point I could not even go into the street. One day I stood in the street screaming and crying because I was surrounded by them and was hearing explosions (auditory hallucinations). Another negative is that I have a phobia about stinging insects, so can never go out in the day, to the beach.
I have tried very hard to make a go of my life here. But it is not a realistic option. I have to stop denying the fact that I am manic depressive. I have to learn to live with it, and not fight against it.The hardest thing is that my family treat me like some kind of delicate china doll, frightened to play with me for fear of a breakage. But being bipolar does not mean that you have to murder your dreams. I know life with bp is hell, but it is still a life, and with courage can be a decent life. Being different does not equal being inferior. I am proud to be manic depressive and am determined not to let my condition prevent me having a decent future and self respect.




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