Meet Kit – A Life with Bipolar
Bipolar is no respecter of race, class or sexual orientation. It is wonderfully unprejudiced.
I was born in 1952 in Preston, Lancashire, in the United Kingdom, where as male legend has it, is where ‘the men are men and the women are grateful’. And already you know something about me – the ability not to take things too seriously. The default position to mental illness in my part of world flipped between ‘ pull yourself together’ or ‘get a grip’
My parents were what would now be termed good, solid post –war working class stock. They were honourable, hard-working folk who taught me the values of honesty, hard work and personal integrity. Though not diagnosed, they suffered from Bipolar too. I can see that now, but not then, as a child, when I first exhibited signs of the condition.
I was very bright, but easily distracted, and with little concentration, but despite this, managed to secure a degree in Politics in London, before falling, as many do, into a career in Personnel, latterly ‘sexed up’ into Human Resources. Pure serendipity rather than a set career choice, but not of the good kind: I was never cut out for it, even though I prospered in it.
I married at age twenty-one, an act of supreme folly, given the Bipolar gave me the maturity of a fourteen year old! She was lovely, but I was no doubt a nightmare mix of charisma mixed with paranoia. It failed, sadly.
Two jobs later I remarried and this lasted 24 years, though the last ten were characterised by a slow descent into maelstrom of undiluted misery. I now live alone, but still live in hope of meeting ‘the right one’
I thought I had at one point, but it failed yet again!
But never quit, and never give up hope.
An upward career trajectory was punctured frequently by the worst aspects of Bipolar seeping into the workplace, but miraculously, I managed to move ever upwards, but at great cost to my mental state. I challenged the condition by exposing myself to things like going on TV quiz shows and becoming a well-known and respected After Dinner Speaker. But the adrenalin rushes that came with such things proved almost fatal, since it simply heightened the mood swings.
The one constant joy has been my daughter, who thankfully has not inherited the condition. She is the bedrock of my existence. Bless her, since she has no real inkling of that status, enjoying the good life she deserves: but she, more than anything, or anyone else, has given me purpose and validated my life. Sounds vainglorious doesn’t it, but she is the one thing I am proud of.
Little about Bipolar offers constancy, so a relationship like that, is, in my opinion, vital to one’s long term well-being.
I’m opinionated, rude at times, incorrigible, lovable, creative, bombastic, argumentative, caring, happy, gloomy, and much more, often in the space of one day God help me.
God gave me Bipolar, but I came to realise he also made funny, and that sense of humour I was gifted with, made people happy. It also enabled me to see through and around the absurdity of my condition. And through my book I hope to have spread a little of my nonsense in the reader’s direction.
So here I am in 2013, aged 60, and wondering where all the time has gone, and why so much has been wasted with this bloody condition. But then I reverse that, and think well if I’ve lasted this long I can get through from now with a degree of sang-froid, and not a little humour. Laughter is indeed a great healer and I commend it to you.
Kit Johnson 2012