There are some brilliant, beautiful, talented people on that list, and it's honestly really comforting to be in that company with something that otherwise devastates me. So did Robin Williams, Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf.
The 19th-century author Edgar Allen Poe, who is thought to have suffered from manic depression, once wrote: "Men have called me mad, but the question is not yet settled whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence..." In recent years psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and psychologists have argued that genius and madness are linked to underlying degenerative neurological disorders.
The problem has been that both genius and severe mental illness are rare, and high intelligence or achievement is subjectively defined.
But I'm 27 now, so I've had a full decade to work that out myself. Sometimes, I'm both (it's called a 'mixed state'), and that feels truly crazy. Putting someone in charge of your mental health and brain chemistry is a huge thing to do. I saw a cranky old man who hadn't Googled 'bipolar disorder' since 1965, a woman who looked like Jabba The Hutt and treated me worse, a softly spoken guy who prescribed 'long walks and tea', and a former prison warden, before I found my current wonderful psychiatrist. She does desperate sadness well, but some of her 'manic' behaviour is so accurate: the way she obsessively chases an idea, stays up all night pinning clues to her living room wall, survives on little to no sleep for a while and then collapses, behaves recklessly with her own life, and gets angry with her family for trying to tame her. We don't get a lot of carefully written characters with bipolar disorder, but this is probably our best pop-culture depiction.
In those years, every time I've come out as bipolar to someone new, they've said one of three things: "Whoa, I never would've guessed. My muscles ache, my head feels like it's splitting open, my heart hurts, my lungs shrink, my throat closes, my limbs get so heavy I can barely lift them. When they're having a manic episode, some people buy cars, gamble their life savings, have sex with strangers, jump off high surfaces or party for days without stopping. When I'm manic, I talk so fast it sounds like I'm speaking a foreign language, do spontaneous monologues for strangers in small South Korean bars and convince myself that trucks doing roadworks in Melbourne are coming for me. That character's condition was simplistic and inflammatory.
“It can also help you begin to establish truthfulness and intimacy.” When do you tell?
Talking about struggles is a deep issue and a truth that deserves to be shared only when the person you’re dating is sharing deep issues of his or her own.I didn't know my ex-boyfriend was suffering from manic depression until about a year into our relationship.I had largely attributed his erratic behaviour to moments of drunkenness, stress and tiredness and at times I felt like my own behaviour (being late, disorganised, and sometimes disengaged) might be to blame for his apparent moodiness and crushing anxieties.Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, affects about 1 per cent of the population and is characterised by swings in mood from elation (mania) to depression.During the manic phase there can be feelings of inflated self-esteem, verging on grandiosity, racing thoughts, restlessness and insomnia.I won't lay out his odd behavioural patterns here on such a public platform; he'll probably never read this, but even so, I don't wish to document the highs and lows of our relationships apart from to say that there were lots of lows.