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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stephen Fry on Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed about a year ago with bipolar disorder, type 2, which means I cycle into depression rather than experience hypomanic episodes.  I do feel that I have been on the edge of hypomania when engaging in too much "goal-seeking" behavior that is excessive (as when I entertained, up to last week, a desire not to retire from San Jose State, but to pile on myself more work, along with raising a five-year-old and writing a difficult book).  I am not in any way suffering with bipolar anymore, but must always be vigilant about managing it.  Being responsible and careful helps to preserve my creativity and happiness.

I would say that Nanowrimo is the worst goal seeking behavior for me in the world, also: writing a 50,000 word novel in a month would put a normal person into bipolar disorder (I mean, just kidding, but it was one of the worst things for my mind I could have possibly done, though I got two good manuscripts out of it).  I have a creative pace that works for me; I find it just fine to be in the nanowrimo community as a presence and enjoy the people in it.

Anyways, after a year on Lamictal, which I will likely take lifelong, I must say that my mind is restored to myself--that is really how I must describe it.  Lamictal (an anti-seizure drug) strengthens the cell walls in the brain so that the electrical activity works correctly (bipolar is considered a physical illness of the brain--in fact, many disorders are just this, though some are harder to treat than others).  I don't feel like a zombie and my creativity is very much alive and happy, as is the rest of my life (my prime concern about any form of meds is the effect on my creative life, which is central to my ability to be happy in the world).

I wanted to share a video from the actor Stephen Fry about his bipolar disorder, which is similar to mine in that he cycles into depression (though his is a much more profound manifestation than mine).

I just want to say that, if you have a disorder you must struggle with, no human being has the right to judge you in any way, including for seeking hospitalization--most Behavioral Health units are set up to be therapeutic and get someone back on track; it is not a mark of shame to have sought help there.  Fry is very up-front about his hospitalizations and nobody runs around mocking him for it (if they do, they are just making a huge display of their own ignorance, a shameful ignorance in this modern age, at that.  Taking a compassionate stance, these people very likely have disorders themselves which, for whatever reason, they have not addressed. In short, it is about THEM, not you).

Be at peace with where you are right now and never stop trying to seek help and to bloom, even if the struggle is great.