To write a comprehensive article about my experience with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, I would have to be allowed to use one million words. Do you think I’m exaggerating? I’m being dead serious.
Bipolar disorder has been a part of my life for the entire 63 years of my existence.
It is a little easier for me in explaining the condition to use the term manic depression. People afflicted with bipolar disorder move between the two states of “mania” and “depression.” And, it isn’t just the difference in being in a good mood one day and a bad one the next; it is the difference in being so excited you buy the Brooklyn Bridge and the next day being so depressed you spent the money, you jump off of it.
In addition to moving between these two states or “moods,” I am known as a “rapid cycler.” I have been known to change moods several times in one hour!
Bipolar disorder is a genetic condition. I also believe it can be developed or worsened in certain environments but that is opinion.
I was raised in a broken home where both parents suffered from manic condition. Also my father had a problem with drinking and my mother ultimately had a problem with serious depression.
Throughout my life I would alternate between moods systematically accomplishing nothing. In my senior year of high school I was absent 50 days most of the time because of depression. Two researchers did doctoral dissertations on me because I had the highest I.Q in the class and the lowest grades.
However the aforementioned gets nowhere near the way bipolar disorder was able to affect me.
I will give you two of the worst highlights of my life in an effort to help you understand the dramatic impact of bipolar disorder.
When I was 18 I rented an office. I hired two full-time secretaries as well as two teenaged workers. I put them all on salary. I hooked up phones; I had started my own business. There was just one problem; I didn’t have a business or an idea for a business.
Everybody I hired just sat around.
Finally I got the idea to mow lawns for realty companies for properties standing empty. I sent out two hundred letters.
This was 1968 so there were no personal computers. Every letter had to be typed. I got one response.
Ultimately I wrote checks for this business equaling $1500.00 dollars, and, that was just the amount that didn’t clear the bank. I was bailed out by my grandmother. However in that era, and even more so in the era of my parents, little was known or treatment applied for bipolar disorder.
This act of starting a business was a severe mania.
Let’s look at a severe depression.
In 1985 I was the CEO of an insurance company. I had been married 12 years. My wife and I had one child and another on the way.
During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day I became extremely depressed and drove to the office in the early morning and left a resignation letter with my office keys.
I then came home and went to bed.
After 10 days my shocked wife got me to a doctor where the diagnosis of bipolar disorder was made.
I could tell you story after story like these two that occurred throughout my life. Despite multiple medications and years of counseling I am little better than when I was first diagnosed.
I am now pursuing one final treatment and that is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
I am tired of dealing with bipolar disorder. As with any chronic illness a person has had to deal with a long time, bipolar disorder has worn me down. It is not surprising that 20 percent of people with bipolar disorder commit suicide.
I am lucky that I have had a wife who I’ve been married to for 40 years who has supported me. Further I have three grown sons who have cared enough to educate themselves about this terrible illness. Many victims of bipolar disorder lose their families.
I can only hope the ECT works.