Thursday, November 22, 2012


I have been promising for a while that I was going to talk about my experience with bipolar disorder. I have mentioned it before but I've never been into any detail about it. I guess it is not the easiest of subjects to discuss.

No matter what people say there is still a stigma attached to mental illness and people are afraid of it.

My mood swings started in my teens. They in fact started in my early teens but I guess they were not so obvious then. They did not become really obvious until I was 16 and 17 years old and even then nothing was done about them and in fact they were not even recognised.

I had long periods of the most crippling depression. I did not want to go out I thought that I was the ugliest and most repulsive person on the planet. I thought that just by going out people would know that I had been violently and sexually abused throughout most of my childhood and they would see what an evil person I was. This is what I remember the most. The crippling depression.

However I also had periods of elation. During these periods of elation I felt absolutely wonderful and I felt that nothing but nothing could stand in my way and I could in fact do anything. I was accepted into drama school. I cannot remember the name of it but I believe it was in  Chiswick. Of course by the time term time came around I was no longer manic so of course I did not take up the course.

These periods of elation became more frequent and more extreme. I would talk non-stop to anybody and my subjects would flit from one to another.

John came home from work  one day to discover that between him leaving in the morning and him returning we had somehow gained seven Persian cats.

These highs had their downsides because I could turn nasty in a split second if I felt that you were trying to make me unhappy. The man I was during these periods of being high was not the bullied victimised sexually abused little wretch. No! I was the very talented Colin who could conquer the world and show the world just how worthy and just how talented and just how truly wonderful he was.

And then, just like that, the little pathetic self hating terrified Colin would return and with it the consequences of my manic behaviour. I had to turn up at a hairdressers to tell them that I did not indeed want to be a hairdresser. I did not go as far as to say that the very idea horrified me. They were not at all pleased with me because they had put quite some effort into a person they thought had a talent and flair. But those poor people did not know that the person they were dealing with did not exist.

The worst of this to me was that I was then involved in the passion of my life the  Lhasa Apso.  Now I know I do not need to tell you who are involved in the world of dogs just how awful people can be.  I quickly earned a very negative reputation. I would perhaps be more understanding of it if that reputation was based upon my inability to look after dogs well, or cruelty towards dogs. However no matter how ill I was my dogs always came first and they were always spotless and loved.

There was a very well-known lady named Daphne Hesketh Williams who was one of the people who took me under her wing because she knew that I was very disturbed young man and she had met my family and had immediately understood why was so disturbed. I will always remember that woman with gratitude. 

There were other people  who also accepted me as I was. They did not seem to object to the constant phone calls. Let me explain that these phone calls might arrive 30 minutes after the previous one only to repeat everything that I'd said in the previous phone conversation. You see, I did not remember. When I was manic my memory was like that of a blackout. And so coming down from   a manic episode was a pretty terrifying experience to me because it meant that I had lost weeks if not months of my memory. And I would find that there were people in my life that I had no idea who they were and I would also find that I had upset or offended other people  whom I knew before I went into my manic phase.

This story could become extremely long and probably extremely dull. The trouble is there are people still involved in my breed who remember the mad and unstable person that I used to be and those people still judge me for how I used to be and they still cause me trouble.  They don't appear to understand that people can change.  I guess if I am honest I think these people do not give a shit  about how painful my life was then nor how painful was my recovery to become the man that I am today. No, I think these people feel superior to me. I think that this is what is behind some shit that has been flung in my direction which I cannot really talk about right now  but there will come a time when I shall be able to talk about it and I most certainly will.

 The other thing of course is that some of the so-called friends that I had who often reminded me what wonderful friends they were for sticking by me when others did not, turned out to not be friends at all but people who were able to see the advantage that could be taken of my mental and emotional state.  This they certainly did.

I am still reeling from the shock of discovering that people I looked up to and trusted were not my friends but were people who used my good nature and generosity and also what they knew about my psychological state in order to benefit themselves. I cannot think of anything more wicked than to  become a friend and confidant to somebody who is severely disturbed because of the abuse by others, only so that they may use that psychological disturbance to their own advantage. This they clearly did. When I think of the years of painful self-doubt that I suffered with because sometimes I did feel in my gut that something was not right with my  friendship with these two people but instead of acting upon it I punished myself severely for being so wicked as to even think such a thing of people who were so good to me as they kept telling me.

  Today life is very different. My mood is stable. I enjoy happiness and fun and joy and excitement and pleasure. And like anybody else I have my dark days.

The miracle for me is that I dress the way that I do and I dare to attend dog shows with thousands of people dressed in a manner that I know makes me stand out. I love every minute of it. Yes, it really does terrify me but I do it anyway. The amount of times I have arrived at a dog show and the first thing that I do is throw open my door and  retch; but then I pull myself together and I enjoy my day and I can honestly say that I do not care one jot about any negative comments I may or may not receive. Instead I concentrate on the good and decent people.  One need have no fear of me suddenly becoming manic at a dog show and attempting to show my dog completely naked!!

 I have put in an enormous amount of work into becoming the man that I am today. Even this year which has been extremely stressful with the house renovations and with my wedding has not brought upon any serious mood alteration. Yes, I have had periods of hyperactivity and I have also had periods of depression but these are very mild when compared to what they used to be.

Just to show how far and how genuine my recovery is I have remained unmedicated for bipolar disorder for over 10 years now.

For those of you who would bring me down, or who would try to because there's absolutely no way that you will succeed, I feel nothing but sorrow for you. You must truly be hurting deep inside your soul to wish to add misery to a person who has had such a life. You also betray yourself by revealing how much less you think of yourself and how much you think of me. Instead though of hating me and trying to pull me down you could try working upon yourself and ridding yourself of the poison within you that causes you to attack me. I am well aware that I'm not your only target but this blog is about me and I'm just letting you know that not only do I know the game you are playing and the moves that you are making, I am also letting you know that you will fail and you will feel as miserable as you always do because bringing me down is not where you will find your happiness.

For the rest of you the mostly kind and generous people, there truly is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to mental illness. What you see with me is what you get. I am recovered. I am who I am. I am who you see me to be. It is up to you to decide whether you take a chance and gain one of the most honourable friends who could possibly have or you decide the opposite and play safe and never get to know me.


Melanie LaPoint said...

My mother is bi-polar. She has been her whole life as far as I know, but it wasn't diagnosed until 5 years ago after her stroke. Her depressive episodes weren't as noticeable to me as a child as her mania was. Her mania was a violent rage. Thankfully she was also legally blind so I just ran away and hid somewhere.

Mental illness is hereditary. I have Anxiety Disorder and Seasonal Depression. Years ago after my son died my doctor tried me on some SSRI's to help bring me out of depression. The drugs made it worse.

As I have gotten older the anxiety has gotten a little worse. Life events make it worse still. Though through the years I have found some of my triggers are food related, so can avoid them.

I admire you for talking about your life, Colin. Yes, the social stigma can sometimes be overwhelming for me. I haven't been as brave as you, and I sometimes wish I could.

I applaud you. Well done. :)

Iris said...

Above all else, your posts are never boring! I wasn't aware you had managed bipolar without meds. That's pretty incredible. You've come a long way, Baby!

Anita said...

Fabulous post Colin.

Unknown said...

A person left a comment and in it they spoke about food intolernce and acuypuncture and a few other things. I accidently deleted it. Please resubmit. I don't want you thinking I censored your lovely comment.

joannamauselina said...

You may find this an odd thing to say, but whenever I am getting a patient with "bi-polar" on their problem list, I know I am going to like them. There really are certain personality plusses which seem to go along with bi-polar disorder. This is, of course, just my own personal observation, but I think it is true nonetheless.

Unknown said...

Joanna-How could I disagree?

Eileen said...

I have bipolar disorder as well. The doctors I've seen say I probably had symptoms in childhood, I agree. I can remember having deep depressive episodes as a pre-teen, and had trouble keeping friends due to what I know know was mania and anxiety. I am amazed and jealous that you've been able to stay medication free so long. Good for you!

steel breeze said...

My father was finally diagnosed as bi-polar after 10-12 years of only being treated for depression (mania not diagnosed). Unfortunately by then, the combination of various medications had done other damage to his brain. I feel he was treated like a guinea pig. At least he is no longer alive to suffer (he died aged 60).

I get bouts of anxiety but nothing on his scale, and I suspect it's more learnt behaviour. Deffo worse in the wintertime!