Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I'm not sure why, but lately certain awareness seems to be coming to the forefront regarding manic-depressive illness, or as it is more commonly called now, bipolar disorder. I just got done reading Dr. Kay Jamison's book, "The Unquiet Mind". This woman is a leader in the research of manic-depressive illness and herself seriously afflicted with the disorder. A friend e-mailed me about a member of her family who struggles with the same mental health issues. I wonder about myself sometimes, being a moody person who tries to balance out extreme highs and lows of feeling and experiences. I remember as a child (fifth grade) being up all night doing a school project. Our family had moved from one state to another, and I went from a very closed Catholic school to public. Something inside triggered an intense competitive desire that seemed to go from "good student" to manic. I couldn't get enough of those highs. But then I'd shut myself in my room, unable to be around people, irritable, antisocial, needing quiet and order.

I have often wondered about my son. My father was alcoholic and I'm sure afflicted with similar drives, but how much and what types I don't know, and he's long gone, as is my mother. I'm not sure of our family's mental health history. A friend of mine who was in the healthcare field and now works with recovering addicts and alcoholics told me both my son and I should be profiled. I'm beginning to think she's right. I dread being "labeled", and yet I wonder how much mental health issues may have played into my son's behaviors, and may figure into his recovery. It's something I need to get more information on and really think about.

Right now I'm taking the time to read and research, and mostly pray about things. This is a touchy area for me because I'm a highly creative person and the thought that that may be due to illness or affected by it is more than I want to face right now. One of the most influential and telling books I've ever read was the memoirs of Hector Berlioz, who was a French composer alive in the 19th century. When I read the book it was like talking to myself. He was identified by Kay Jamison as a manic-depressive person. So I wonder how this all fits together and why the knowledge is suddenly at the forefront of my mind.


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