Jean: Sparkly but with Rocks
Jean, My Bipolar Story Short Bio of Jean. Born 1951. College graduate. Married twice. First time for ten years--two sons ages 23 and 21. Present marriage - eleven years--three sons, ages 10, 9, and 7.
Grew up in NY, upper class family, very happy, very oblivious to any sort of outside world--we lived in a world of private clubs, boarding schools, total obliviousness.
I was even a debutante.
People from this background do not go to psychiatrists when they have problems. They are more apt to suffer in silence, become alcoholics, or just...die in "accidents". This is still as true today as it was when I was a child. Mental disorders and disabilities of any kind are considered...tacky. The lack of compassion from people like this is astounding. I have learned this firsthand since I have become the mother of disabled children.
At any rate, the "silent suffering" is the reason I cannot tell you if we had any manic depressives in my background. Nobody discussed it. From what I can tell, I am the first one, which is really odd, I know. We had untreated unipolar depression (I think), we had untreated agorophobia, we had untreated alcoholism, and we have a family of very talented people whose names you might recognize in the fields of writing, politics and business.
My catalyst for my manic depression was the incredible stress I endured when my fourth child, now 9, was diagnosed autistic at age 2. I threw myself into learning about autism, which even now is an extremely mysterious, complicated and difficult- to-deal-with disorder. I wrote about it for publication (I still write about it, frequently, often with humor, believe it or not), and I even started a support group for parents with autistic children. I also arranged a tv appearance for myself on a cable health channel to increase people's awareness of autism (by the time that was supposed to take place, I was in the hospital. A friend took my place).
As I was doing this, I was running a home based 40 hour a week "home schooling program" for my severely autistic child where all his teachers would come and work one on one with him in an intensive form of teaching therapy called Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA. I was even trained as one of his teachers, and had sessions with him myself.
Then my fifth son, whom we had thought was "perfect", was diagnosed autistic as well. This was so unbearably painful that all the work I had done on "acceptance" just flew out the window and I finally gave in and became depressed. I believe this was my one and only experience with depression in my life.
I was given Paxil in an improper dosage and six months later I became hypomanic. I began developing a theory of "highest fuctioning autism", very exciting to me, which I fed-exed to Oliver Saks--the neurologist who wrote the book that became the movie "Awakenings"-- and I began staying up all night, exhilarated and totally egotistical. Hypersexual. Overspending. Speeding mentally. I was totally disconnected from my family--barely going through the motions. I was talking to the stars in the sky! My husband, not the psychiatrist I was seeing, was able to realize how serious my condition was and forced me to go to a hospital. I walked into the admitting psychiatrist's office and he asked me about one question before it was apparent to him that I needed to be placed immediately, and I was. Call me Bipolar l. It was serious.
I only stayed for 6 days--I hated it because it reminded me of boarding school. I begged my husband to get me out. On the other hand, they gave me lithium and and I slept, stabilized, and recovered enough to get out and go home to my family.
I never, EVER, want that to happen again, so I never miss my appointments with my excellent psychpharmacologist. I remain on medication. It has been 5 1/2 years since my "episode". My motivation to stay healthy is extremely high. However, the drawback was that it took me years to regain confidence and "trust in my own brain", if you know what I mean. It had "tricked" me after 44 years of being completely reliable. This is one of the reasons I have not been able to write about my experiences with manic depression until five years after my episode took place. It frankly was too shocking to me that it actually happened. I wished to protect myself from the very thought, even while faithfully taking my medications and caring for my family.
In here was the first time I opened up about this, ever. So I thank healthyplace.com for that.
Gluck, S. (2009, January 5). Jean: Sparkly but with Rocks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, December 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/articles/jean-sparkly-but-with-rocks