Wednesday, May 01, 2013


I frequently receive emails from people who read my blog telling me their stories and how much solace they get from what I write. I have recently had a couple that address the subject of bipolar disorder.

Most of the time I completely forget that I have bipolar disorder. I am quite certain I forget this  because it suits me to.

I stopped taking medication for bipolar disorder about 10 years ago if not a little longer. One of the things that I hated about the medication was how flat it made me feel.

Most importantly having done the work I needed to do with regard to my life of abuse my mood swings became much less extreme. I say my life of abuse because to say that I was abused only as a child is not at all true. I consider my time spent in psych wards as abuse. Yes, the stories you hear about abusive staff are certainly true.  Back in the 80s I was called to give evidence about one of the hospitals I was in and the questioning psychiatrist asked me why I said nothing at the time. I looked at him squarely in the eye and I said to him: I was locked up in a mental hospital. I was being abused by the staff in that hospital. Why do you think I did not complain? Honestly what a stupid question to have asked me!

I still have the mood swings. It is just that they are not very noticeable now. However in times of stress they do become much more volatile. Last year was a good example of this. With all the stress of the house remodelling and our wedding I started to become really quite hyper and then the Jimmy Savile affair hit the news and I crashed but I kept this all to myself and I did not go to my GP. My illness had really taken over at this point and I had become paranoid. I was frightened that if I said anything to her that I would be locked up again. In the end I had no choice but call a locum in the middle of the night. I knew of course that this would be reported to my GP although I was not conscious of the fact at that particular time. I realise now that I called the locum knowing full well that he would have to tell my GP and that was my way of letting her know that I was in trouble. As a result of this we had a very good conversation and she made me a solemn promise that she would never ever do anything without my consent and she also did not think that I needed such treatment anyway. She made me feel very much better by letting me know that I was not the only person so badly affected by the Jimmy Savile affair and she had also told me several times previously that the house alterations and our wedding were very stressful occasions for people in general not just to me but given my added complications she is surprised I handled it all so well.

I guess the whole point of this is to remind myself of how far I really have come but also to remind myself that it has not gone away completely and it is never likely to. Everything that I write about myself and my disease and how I have coped is purely personal and if it helps other people I am very glad. I have no intention of getting involved in the argument of whether this is a purely biological disease. I personally do not think it is or at least if it is, it does not mean that therapy cannot help it. I can only speak from my own experience which has seen a huge lessening of the bipolar effects as I came to terms with myself and my past.

Who knows what the future may hold.  Considering just how stressful last year was, the bipolar affective disorder could have been very much stronger in reaction to all that stress. The fact that it was not I believe is down to be years of work I put in upon myself. However the way that it still presented itself and took hold of me is still frightening particularly the paranoia that I felt which kept me from seeking help or at least telling somebody.

I know that I am quite hard upon myself and yet when I write a post like this I amaze myself. I am truly astonished at the journey I have taken and if the feelings were not so clear I would find it hard to believe that the man writing this is the same man who went through all this. If I have a regret about my writing it's that I do not have talent enough to convey the sheer horror of it all so that people can really see what I used to be like compared to what I am like now. I so want to convey the message that healing is possible that no matter how bad the situation is it really can be bettered. Yes, there are a lot of battles to be fought along the way not least of which will be against loved ones and medicos who will wrongly feel that they know best. At least that was so in my case. I was very lucky that I always had John on my side and after his first experiences with the medicos in relation to my treatment he very quickly learned what I was up against and he supported me in searching out alternate avenues for my recovery.

These alternate avenues did involve a lot of new-age hokey pokey and treatments but I soon saw through those as well.

In the end the two things that really set me on the road to real recovery were this; reading books by a woman called Dorothy Rowe and finding a therapist who was a survivor of abuse himself and therefore knew what I was going through. He also never once told me there was something wrong with me and he never once diagnosed me. He never once let me down either. Even when I went into a full-blown mania as was likely to happen when I started to deal with the pain of sexual abuse. He did not leave my side.  He kept his word.

Some of you will have read my comments regarding my memories and how I can't look back over my life and see anything other than blackness and pain. Perhaps the above goes some way to explaining what I mean.

The last seven years have truly been the best of my life. They have not been without their difficulties and as I have already described last year was challenging to say the least but the good of the last seven years far outweighs the bad. For the first time in my life I am able to look back over a period longer than a few weeks and say that it was good.


midnightvelvet said...

Colin, just take a look at that picture to the right...that lovely smiling man. By going through what you have and in surviving thus far, you have created a very pleasant, very honest,very courageous man of whom you can be rightly very proud. Actually, I am sitting here crying because reading your story is like re-living my own Daughters story in many ways. I'm not sure whether it's therapeutic in any way but I think that it does make some things clearer. Thanks again for sharing your journey xx

TeriKnits said...

Dear Colin - I agree completely with midnightvelvet's comments. You are wonderful man and as you know already, your writings concerning Bi-Polar etc. have come at a time when our family needed it most. Our son is less than a year into his "diagnosis" but has struggled for such a long time. I am so pleased that more and more people are having the courage to talk and write about things such as mental illness, and various forms of abuse. Many of us have felt it was "our fault" or made to feel that if we had an emotional and/or mental illness that we would be shunned. Some people do still begin to distance themselves once it is learned that a person has Manic and delusional episodes, depression, or one of the various degrees of Bi-Polar etc. Thank you again Colin for being so candid and open on your blog. You are helping many many people who may not know you personally be consider you a friend as we relate to what you have and still are dealing with. Thank you again Colin (((HUGE HUG))) ;-)

Iris said...

You, of course, have no way of knowing that my niece is suffering from bi-polar, newly diagnosed. Through the years I have read your postings, there have been so very many times they have been helpful, personally, to me. You seem to almost know what is going on in my life and use your own issues and insights to help me navigate mine. It's obvious this happens with other people, as well. There's no way we can ever repay you for your kindness and insights.

Georgina said...

Haven't been around lately Colin as I am overwhelmed with things that need doing, but dropped by and read this post - it is wonderfully cogent and expressive. I know what pain you suffer, but if the majority of people in the world were as sane as you the planet would be a great place to live!