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AN ACCOUNT OF
MY BIPOLAR DISORDER

A 65 YEAR CONTEXT:
October 1943 To December 2008

BY

RON PRICE
George Town Tasmania Australia
(73 Pages: Font 14—27,600 words)

1. Preamble and Introduction:

1.1 This is a longitudinal, retrospective account going back to my conception in October 1943. I make reference to a genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder(BPD) due to a family history of affective disorder in a first-degree relative, my mother(1904-1978). She had BPD, although her disability was never given that medical diagnosis. About half of all patients with BPD have one parent who also has a mood disorder. There is, therefore, a clinical significance in my mother’s mood disorder in the diagnosis of my own BPD. The high heritability of BPD has been well documented through familial incidence, twin, and adoption studies. There is an unquestionable justification for the inclusion of my family in my understanding of BPD. No specific gene has yet been identified as the one "bipolar gene." It appears likely that BPD is caused by the presence of multiple genes conferring susceptibility to BPD when combined with psychosocial stressors. I make this point as an opening remark and pass on to my story.

1.2 My account also provides a statement of my most recent experiences in the last year, 2007-2008, with manic-depression(MD) or BPD as it has come to be called in recent years. Some prospective analysis of my illness is also included with the view to assessing potential long-term strategies, appropriate lifestyle choices and activities in which to engage in the years ahead. For the most part, though, this account, this statement I have written here in some 26,000 words is an outline, a description, of this partially genetic-family-based illness and my experience with it throughout my life.
------------------------Part 2---To Come At a Later Date--------------
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replied January 2nd, 2009
Part 2 of My BPD Story
Parts 1 to 4 of my BPD Story have now been posted at this ehealth forum from June 2008 to January 2009. More posts, more of my narrative, will follow in the months and perhaps years ahead depending on: (a) the responses of others at this site and (b) my own view of the relevance of continuing with this story at this site.-Ron Price, Australia coffee
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1.3 Some of the personal context for this illness over the lifespan in my private and public life, in the relationships to my family of birth and my two families of marriage, in my employment life and now in my retirement are discussed in this document. I include some of what seems to me my major and relevant: (a) personal circumstances as they relate to my values, beliefs and attitudes on the one hand--what some might call my religion as defined in a broad sense; (b) family circumstances; for example, my parents’ life and my wife’s illness; (c) employment circumstances involving as they did: (i) stress, (ii) movement from place to place and (iii) my sense of identity and meaning; as well as (d) a range of other aspects of my day-to-day life and their wider socio-historical setting. This lengthy account will hopefully provide mental health sufferers, clients or consumers, as they are now variously called these days, with a more adequate information base to make some comparisons and contrasts with their own situation, their own predicament whatever it may be, and hopefully gain some helpful knowledge and understandings.

1.4 This document will also assist those assessing my suitability for: (a) employment, (b) for a disability pension of some kind and/or (c) a volunteer public or private office. This document should help those needing to make such an evaluation make their decision a more informed one as they go about assessing my capacity to take on some task or responsibility; or as they go about assessing the degree of my incapacity.

1.5 Many do not feel comfortable going to doctors, to psychologists and, more especially, to psychiatrists. Perhaps this is part of a general distrust of certain professional fields in our world today. Perhaps it is part of a general public being more critical. Others do seek help; still others try to work things out themselves and there are, of course, various combinations of those who try, those who have given up and those who go back and forth between the two poles of trying and not trying to sort out their disorder. Many often find the journey through the corridors of mental health problems so complex, such a labyrinth, that they give up in despair. Suicide is common among the group I refer to here—the sufferers from BPD and I could include depression(D) as well as a range of other illnesses and life battles of a traumatic nature. This account may help such people obtain appropriate treatment and, as a result, dramatically improve their quality of life. I think, too, that this essay of more than 27,600 words and sixty-four A-4 pages(font 14) is part of: (a) my own small part in reducing the damaging stigma associated with BPD and (b) what might be termed “my coming out.”
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replied January 27th, 2009
Part 3 of My BPD Story
1.6 Many do not feel comfortable going to doctors, to psychologists and, more especially, to psychiatrists. Perhaps this is part of a general distrust of certain professional fields in our world today. Perhaps it is part of a general public being more critical. Others do seek help; still others try to work things out themselves and there are, of course, various combinations of those who try, those who have given up and those who go back and forth between the two poles of trying and not trying to sort out their disorder. Many often find the journey through the corridors of mental health problems so complex, such a labyrinth, that they give up in despair. Suicide is common among the group I refer to here, the sufferers from BPD, and I could include depression(D) as well as a range of other illnesses and life battles of a traumatic nature. This account may help such people obtain appropriate treatment and, as a result, dramatically improve their quality of life. I think, too, that this essay of more than 30,200 words and sixty-four A-4 pages(font 14) is part of: (a) my own small part in reducing the damaging stigma associated with BPD and (b) what might be termed my coming out.

1.7 The wider framework of my experience which I outline here is intended to place my BPD in context and should provide others with what I hope is a helpful perspective, as I say above, in relation to their own condition, their own problems and situations. Perhaps my statement may help some BPD sufferers describing and understand their personal histories. My BPD exists on an affective spectrum which is a grouping of related psychiatric and medical symptoms which accompany bipolar, unipolar and schizoaffective disorders at statistically higher rates than normally exist in the general population. These disorders are identified by a common positive response to the same types of pharmacologic treatments. They also aggregate strongly in families and may therefore share common heritable underlying physiologic anomalies.

1.8 This essay, as I say, of seventy-four A-4 pages(font-14) is written: (a) for doctors and various medical professionals who have dealt with or will come to deal with my disorder and especially for those who are now, at this present time, involved with my treatment should they find such a statement useful; (b) for internet sites and those registered/inquirers on the www at a range of health and mental health sites, especially the sections of sites dealing with D and MD/BPD; (c) for some of my relatives, friends and associations over the years with whom I still have contact in these early years(60-65) of my late adulthood(60-80) and to whom it seemed relevant to give such a statement; (d) for government departments, voluntary organizations, interest groups and Bahai institutions who require such statements for reasons associated with our relationships and interactions; and (e) for myself as a reflection, for my own satisfaction, to put into words the story, the results, of an illness, a sickness, a disorder that has influenced my life for over more than six decades.

1.9 This document, this statement, originally written in 2003 for the Australian government and its department of Human Services, its Centrelink section which with Disability Support Pensions, has been revised many times after further reflection. Now in its sixth edition after feedback from various doctors, friends and internet respondents as well as after an increase in my own knowledge of the illness as a result of further study, this document is an ongoing and changing entity as my experience of the disorder continues into the middle years(65-75) of my late adulthood(60-80). -Part 4 to come later after some feedback.
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