I miss the mad me


It sounds, I imagine, unbelievable if I were to say that I miss madness. Time is on its side, after all; 55 years until I sought help for what, by then, I knew well enough had to be bipolar disorder. Manic depression. This was three years ago.

I exist now with no medical or psychiatric help; all I have is a small cauldron of medications to keep me sane.

My moods are indeed more stable, with the top and bottom of them clipped. That still leaves an awful lot of space in-between for, well, potential insanity.

Something of me has gone. Maybe it’s me? After all, you live with someone long enough you get to know them, maybe very well – or what you imagine to be so. What’s gone for me is my creativity first and foremost; I am a poet, novelist, photographer, painter. Or at least I was. No, I still am. I just don’t do it as much. I’ve started to write a small amount of poetry again and I’ve always taken photographs. I’ve written no fiction in a few years and as I say, a piddling amount of poetry that I don’t know the value of. Is it any good? Well, it gets published – is that an indication in these days of online magazine and journals? Depends which one I suppose.

Madness gave me a sex life. Rather too much of one I suppose. And with it, some confidence and a way around the crippling social anxiety I have now or when sane. Luckily I escaped the uncontrolled spending that may people with bipolar have. I’ve had no inclination to go out and buy a Harley Davidson or a sports car. I did buy several Fairport Convention albums and a load of cheap watches. I am holding down a good job (I have no idea how) and I can handle this limited expenditure.

After all, in the past, whilst manic, I’ve got married soon after beginning a relationship. And bought a one-way ticket to India (and used it).

I read a lot of blogs and articles about bipolar; I’m pretty much a textbook case, though one of my psychiatrists (when I had some) said I was an ‘unusual case’. This, I assume, is because I have both ultra- ultra rapid cycling (ultradian) bipolar as well as a more typical cycling form that has varied from rapid cycling to a longer cycling model.

Some things are much easier for me now, medicated. I had several months of CBT but it didn’t seem to have worked for me. Maybe if I’d been medicated at the same time it would have helped? Some things surfaced during that therapy that I didn’t like, didn’t feel at all comfortable with. Specifically, bipolar dissociation and even DID itself. One of the more ridiculous things my therapist suggested was that I free the other self inside me (and in the mirror) to see what happens. No, thank you.

I can’t honestly say the ‘extremely intrusive suicidal ideations’ are any less present. Maybe a little less severe though. Maybe not.

You might have by now a sense of what I mean by missing madness? When manic or hypomanic – and especially when in mixed moods – I often have no idea what I’m doing. Sometimes I know afterwards, often not at all. I have memory lapses (dissociation?) that scare me. My short term memory is wrecked. I live a separate life in dreams, though I’ve not slept through the night even once in decades.

I’ve put on a load of weight since starting the meds – I usually sum up the choice of being medicated or not as fat or mad? I seem to have chosen the former, though as I said at the beginning of this piece, I’m far from convinced that I’ve made the right choice.



Phew, long absence..

OK, so yesterday I decided I would go and talk to my doctor and as I’ll have trouble talking to my doctor (who was actually a locum I’d never met before) I wrote a letter for her to read there and then. This was – to say the least – rather a brave and difficult thing for me to do.

Read the letter and you’ll see why:

“I find it very difficult to talk about this, which is why I have ‘suffered in silence’ for 35+ years. Yes, 35.

I have anxiety all the time. I haven’t slept through the night for over 15 years, waking usually at 2am+ then off and on until I have to get up for work.

I have suffered from depression almost constantly all my adult life, untreated.

I have ‘manic’ episodes though these are not serious, though I need to be careful when they happen as I don’t always know when I am in this state. I am a writer and artist and I use the ‘ups’ as fuel for creativity. These don’t usually last too long but are usually followed by exhaustion and depression.

In the past the longer ‘ups’ have resulted in some promiscuity and impulse buying, though never anything extreme or unmanageable!

The most dangerous times I feel are when I have ups in the middle of downs – I don’t really know when those are happening until afterwards. These are the times I have suicidal thoughts; scarily the idea ‘makes perfect sense’ at those times. They are, again, usually fairly brief.

I have no close relationships – I find it impossible to sustain them, or rather, friends and girlfriends/wives find them impossible to sustain.

After 30 years without mentioning this to a GP (when I tried, in 1980, my GP told me to ‘pull yourself together’ and sent me packing) I have learned to deal with it myself, and to understand myself and how I can deal with it best.

Lately, it is more of a struggle as work becomes more stressful and my general health has more niggles than before.”

The doc says she will refer me for a (NHS) psychiatric appraisal. Maybe I’ll try harder to write this blog and take you all on a journey with me from this point forwards.

35 years… sheesh.