And how did that make you feel?
Published on Black Dog Tribe March 2012
If you are expecting what I might call the usual article about mental health and ‘how I discovered this or that’ and changed my life – forget it. But that’s not say my story should not lift you – quite the contrary!
A few years ago I went to see a Psychiatrist and said ‘could you me help me out’ and he said ‘sure which way did you come in’. So that’s that profession dealt with!
What about meds? I once presented my wife with some Olympic condoms, gold, silver, and bronze, and asked her to choose. She said lets go for silver and see if you can come second for a change! But help is always at hand, for as male readers may concur, SSRI’s have the exact opposite effect! A silver lining if ever there was one. Now I can make love for hours and hours, but never detonate on impact – I mean never! And your lover’s skills are also tempered by the likelihood that during these marathon love making sessions, you will be auditioning to belch for England at the Olympics. So that’s meds dealt with!
I went to my GP and asked him what he thought about Cyclothymics and he said ‘well I couldn’t eat a whole one.’ So that’s the Doctor dealt with!
Ok, ok, ok – time to inject some sanity – sorry no pun intended – the above advice might be just be a bit extreme. I am not against any of the above, but after 45 years with Bipolar, I worked out nothing was working for me. The rule has to be ‘whatever does it for you’ then go with it.
But I do think we, as a society, look for silver bullet solutions too readily; and frankly they don’t exist. I do not believe I can be cured, but I can manage it. The very action of seeking help made me feel a failure. Taking the pills to control my brain made me feel a freak. And you know what – I AM NOT! After all unless you have had a humour by-pass, I’ve already made you laugh – Yes?
My epiphany came the day I realised mocking my condition using the gifts of humour I’d be given, suddenly made me feel good – proud even. And I’ve practiced it ever since. And when my self-deprecation fails me, I hit YouTube and watch some of my favourite comedians. And I do feel better. Of course it won’t do it for everyone, not even me on occasion, but I commend it as something else to consider as you seek that Holy Grail.
I discovered I was Bipolar in my teens. If you liken life to a Rodeo, it felt like someone had seen fit to knobble me with haemorrhoids! I spent a good deal of my life feeling angry. So you are vulnerable to trying anything, and in my experience, it can lead to a succession of disappointments, when you realise you are still the same. But at the time if someone had told me probing sheep’s entrails whilst playing ‘will ye no come back again’ on Bagpipes sitting on a camel would do it – I’d have tried it!
A friend of mine went to his doctor and said ‘I wake up every morning and start singing Delilah’. The doctor says he had Tom Jones’ disease. ‘Is it common?’ asked my friend. ‘Well it’s not unusual’
Bipolar is unusual. But it need not cripple you. Like its close stable-mate, depression, it is debilitating, but that’s no reason to feel shame or pretend you don’t have it and suffer in silence. I now count my blessings. After all, if I did not have the condition I wouldn’t be here writing this, and hopefully bringing a bit of joy to people.
So you’ve just had a measured dose of Kit Johnson, and in those immortal and largely useless words uttered by your counsellor, ‘And how did that make you feel’. A little bit better I hope.