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My Bi-polar Disorder--a 60 Year Story In Context: 1947-2007

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5000 words
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My experience both long and short term with manic-depression, or bi-polar illness as it has come to be called in recent years, and with other maladies; as well as my personal circumstances at home in relation to my wife’s illness in recent years should provide mental health consumers, as they are often called these days, with an adequate information base to evaluate their situation, make relevant comparisons and contrasts to their own predicament whatever it may be and thereby gain some helpful knowledge or understandings which may be of use to them in personal terms. There are still many who do not feel comfortable seeking medical support and 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 is part of my own small part in reducing the damaging stigma associated with bi-polar disorder.

The wider context of my experience which I outline here is intended to place my bi-polar disorder in context and should provide others with what I hope is a helpful perspective on their own condition and situation. This essay of more than 5000 words and more than six A-4 pages is primarily written for internet sites on mental health, especially as manifested in depression and the bi-polar disorder. I also write this essay, this reflection, for my own satisfaction, to put into words something that has influenced my life for over half a century. Originally written in 2003, this piece of writing has been revised many times after my own introspections and the feedback from various internet respondents

1. Manic-Depression: Preamble

After half a dozen episodes, varying in length from several days to several months, and many experiences on the fringe of normality, the fringe of manic-depressive symptoms, and the heart of manic-depression between 1946 and 1980, I was treated with lithium carbonate in Launceston by a psychiatrist and officially diagnosed as manic-depressive. My history to that point had been far from smooth and linear, but periodically bisected, polarized and traumatized.

In some ways the inclusion of the names of those doctors who treated me over the years would personalize this account, but names are not that important and to include them here in this narrative causes confidentiality problems to some readers and at some websites--and so I leave names out. Those whose names I could mention would not be troubled by their inclusion here. I certainly appreciate the clinical work of several of the psychiatrists as well as several of the individuals I have known personally over the years. Their professional work and personal assistance has been invaluable and I want readers to recognize the primacy I give to the work of these specialized doctors and friends for their help and assistance, their saving me from what in any previous age and time period would have been a horrific, virtually end-of-normal-life experience.

I sojourned in a public and private world, from time to time, no less strange to me than if I had been among an exotic jungle tribe in Africa. It is the duty of all anthropologists to report on their exotic travels and field trips, whether to the Earth’s antipodes or to equally remote recesses of human experience, this is my accounting. I came, insensibly over several decades, to associate the extremes of my bi-polar disorder with the role of shamans among tribal, third world, animistic communities, people who relate their myths and their meanings my means of emotionally laden ecstatic visions. On the personal level, I discovered in myself unexpected patience, humility and hope. I learned to treat life as the most precious of gifts, infinitely vulnerable and precarious, to be infinitely prized and cherished. I had not become a saint, though; I still suffered; I was still impatient; I did not always appreciate life; I still got depressed. I had journeyed with my soul into an underworld and come back. It was a spiritual drama—on a psycho-neurological, a psycho-pharmacological, a schizo-affective level. I could narrate this drama in religious terms and describe it as a purgatorial dark night.

Stories in life are chaotic in the absence of narrative order. And so I tell my story here as briefly as possible to help establish, for me, a sense of order. I tell of these events, as a storyteller, my experience of life, to some extent without sequence or discernible causality. Life has an element of mystery no matter how much knowledge and understanding we bring to the problem. I claim that chaos narratives are incompatible with writing or with telling. Those who are truly living a chaos cannot tell of it in words except in the most bizarre fashion. The chaos that I describe in the distant past is told here in a story-form. I now reflect on that experience retrospectively. Lived chaos makes reflection, and consequently story-telling, impossible when one is in the midst of the experience. Telling, and even more so writing, it seems, is a way of taking control, creating order, thus keeping that once experienced chaos at bay.

2. Enter: Lithium

Lithium is, arguably, the central pivot in this whole story. I have been on lithium now for twenty-seven years, about half of the total time I have experienced this significantly/partially genetic disorder. My mood swings, now in 2007, take place, for the most part, late in the evening and after midnight with the death wish still part of the experience, but none of the intensity that my mood swings had for many years, at least until 2001 when fluvoxamine was added to my medication package. The symptoms that affect my daily working capacity are fatigue and psychological weariness, sometimes after a night of light sleeping, tossing and turning and/or sometimes late at night after many hours of intellectual activity. Dryness of the mouth and short term memory loss also seem to affect my daily life as a result of (a) lithium treatment and (b), in the case of memory loss, perhaps due to the eight ECT treatments I had as far back as the late 1960s. My current psychiatrist who specializes in treating people with bi-polar disorder, has been providing his professional advice for the last five years, after a series of psychiatrists I have had going back to 1968.3

It seemed appropriate to outline this detailed statement for several purposes since the issue of the nature of my problem and what I have called manic-depression/bi-polar disorder is a complex one, varies from person to person and has been of concern over the sixty years that I have had to deal with its symptoms in my personal and working life-as have others involved with me. It is difficult to characterize my condition and it is for this reason that I have written what some may find to be a somewhat long statement for both my satisfaction and use by others. I hope the account below, in both long and short term contexts, will explain adequately my reasons for not wanting to work in any employment position or participate in any demanding social context. This account may also provide those interested with some useful information for dealing with their particular problems.

3. Manic-Depression: Long-term 1947-2001

There seems to be a process, one of immense variability, that I have experienced on a daily basis for some 60 years. The details, the symptoms, the behaviour, varies from year to year, with the decades, with the days. I cross from some normal behavioural constellation to an abnormal, intense one. The abnormal extreme position varies, as I say, from year to year in content, texture, tone and intensity. In 1946 it was characterized by uncontrollable early childhood behaviour. My mother had to deal with these aberrations. I think the diagnosis of bi-polarism at that early stage of my life is a remote possibility given a statistical average of 1% of manic-depressives having the disorder in childhood. Looking back to my childhood I did have some behavioural abnormalities, but their association with bi-polarism is, I think, unlikely in retrospect.

At the moment my bi-polarism is characterized by a mild tedium vitae attitude and behaviour as I have come to call it--late at night. Due to the above "process" over the last sixty years, due to the part of the process which occurs in varying degrees in various accentuated forms, it has often been difficult to define just where I was at any one time along that 'normal-abnormal' continuum. This was true at both the depressive end and the hypomanic end of the spectrum. It is difficult, therefore, to actually name the number of times when I have had major manic-depressive episodes, perhaps as many as eight, certainly as few as four, in my whole life, from the first episode--which was probably not an episode--in 1946 to the last brief episode in 1990 when I went off my lithium for between one and three months. Defining an episode is not easy for me to do; indeed, the concept of episode is only useful in some respects. In other ways it over-simplifies a complex set of behaviours and has value when trying to describe the experience in writing.

Since 1990 I have generally had little difficulty knowing where I was in this process, this swing of mood and feelings. The great intensities had gone by 1990. Total acceptance of the necessity of taking lithium was a critical variable in this process and it took a decade to achieve(1980-1990). At the hypomanic end of the continuum over the years there were experiences like the following: violent emotional instability and oscillation, abrupt changes and a sudden change in a large number of intellectual assumptions, elation, high energy. Mental balance, a psychological coherence between intellect and emotion and a rational reaction to the outside world all seemed to blow away, over a few hours to a few days, as I was plunged in a sea of what could be variously described as: emotional heat, intense awareness, sensitivity, sleeplessness, voluble talking, racing mental activity, fear, excessive and clearly irrational paranoia--and in 1968 virtually total incoherence at times--at one end of the spectrum; or intense depression, melancholia, an inner sense of despair and a desire to commit suicide4 at the other end. The latter I experienced from 1963 to 1965, off and on; the former from 1964 to 1990, on several occasions.

The longest depression I had was in 1963 and 1964 with perhaps two six month periods from June to November and July to December, respectively. The longest episode of hypomania was from June to November 1968. This episode was also given the name of schizo-affective disorder with the adjective mild placed at the front of the term. The episodes of hypomania in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1990 were treated quickly with medication, although the 1978 episode, beginning in January, seemed to last for at least three or four months and had a mostly depressive component. It was treated with stelazine and the side effects were horrific. I wanted to get under the bedclothes every night after getting home from work due to paranoia and depressive symptoms. Only the 1980 episode required hospitalization in this case for one month.

I had some experience of this variously characterized illness in childhood as far back as about 1947 at the age of 2 and then onward through early, middle and late childhood into the puberty cusp of 12 or 13 I manifested symptoms which, in retrospect, seem to me examples of a lack of control of my emotions, a far too intense activity threshold and activity with what could be called mild bi-polar symptoms. It was not until much later in life, though, that I began to see these behavioural aberrations in childhood, at puberty and during adolescence as possibly having a link with my future mental illness. It was not until I was 19 in 1963 that any characteristics of this illness became quite clearly apparent in my day-to-day life. They did not receive the required medical attention and the diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder, bi-polarism and/or depression did not take place—medically. I was just given lots of advice from religious to common-sensical varying from diet to exercise. And after several months or several years the emotional aberrations disappeared, at least for a time.

My episodes over the years seemed to exhibit quite separate and distinct tendencies and patterns; hypomania was always characterized by elation and depression was always characterized by varying degrees of very low moods. In the 1978 episode, elation and depression followed each other alternatively within a two to three month period. Clearly, in the episodes in the late '70s, fear, paranoia and the extremes of depression seemed to be much less than those of the 1960s.

This account above has none of the fine detail that I could include like: (a) mental and mostly auditory hallucinations, (b) specific fears and paranoias, (c) electroconvulsive therapy, (d) psychiatric analysis and diagnosis, (e) the many years of dealing with suicidal thoughts and the death wish, (f) experiences in and out of half a dozen hospitals, unnumbered doctors’ clinics and the advice from more people than I care to think of, (g) adjusting to medications that varied from ones which put me to sleep to ones which made me high; (h) the affects of these swings on my employment, my relationships and my attitude to life; and (i) the periods in my life when the manifestations of the disorder were few and far between. Many of the situations, looking back, were humorous and the contexts absurd. And there was much else but, as I indicate, I hesitate to go into more detail. My aim here is to make a short, clinical statement, to put the facts on paper. Perhaps later I will go into the kind of detail some readers have already asked for. And so--I want to make this statement as short as possible but as detailed as I can to give a longitudinal perspective.

There are a variety of manic-depressive profiles, different typicalities, from person to person. It is bipolar because both ends of the spectrum, the moods, were experienced over the period 1947 to 2007, 60 years. Thanks to lithium most of the extremes were treated at the age of 35 in 1980. It took another ten years, until 1990 as I say above, for me to fully accept the lithium treatment. From time to time in the 1980s I tried to live without the lithium, to ‘go it alone’, as they say colloquially. Such, in as brief a way as possible, is the summary of my experience over the years. I have written more extensively of this in my autobiography which is readily available on the internet if anyone is interested. I would like, now, to focus on my more recent experience of the last decade and a half, 1991-2007, and especially the last half dozen years, 2001-2007.

4. Manic-Depression: Short-term 1991-2007

In the eight years 1991 to 1999 I finished my life of full-time employment, began my obsession with writing and experienced, at last after a decade a full-acceptance of my lithium treatment. In 2001, after two years of early retirement, my supervising psychiatrist in Tasmania suggested I go onto fluvoxamine in addition to the lithium treatment. Fluvoxamine is an anti-depressant. The fluvoxamine removed the blacknesses I had continued to experience at night, from late in the evening until early morning when I was awake or partially awake. The death-wish has always been associated with these blacknesses. With the fluvoxamine, gradually the blacknesses, the nightly depressions, disappeared or virtually so with only residues of a lower mood remained. The death wish remained as did sleeping problems, but in a much milder form. Like so many things in life, the death wish and mood swings have varying degrees of intensity and coping is the key question—and one not easily described and/or answered.

Frequent urination, periodic nausea and memory problems related, in part and perhaps, to the shock treatments I had back in the 1960s, were new problems by the year 2001. But the dark and debilitating feelings, I had experienced for so many years, were at last removed, if not totally at least virtually. After sixty years of bi-polar disorder and/or manifestations of bi-polar disorder in varying degrees of intensity, with periodic totally-debilitating episodes, most of the worst symptoms seem at last, at least in the last six years, to have been treated and removed. The anger seemed, at last, to have disappeared, little by little, year after year, the anger episodes had finally gone by the time I was in my early sixties. Irritability, it seems to me looking back over nearly 45 years of periodic outbursts of anger or what some call ‘intermittent explosive disorder,’ triggered my anger. Irritability in people who have bipolar disorder is a biologically driven symptom of hypomania or mania. The sexual urges still remained.

In April 2007 I switched from lithium to sodium valproate as my main medication due to the creatinin levels in my blood which had been too high for too long—for about a year. These creatinin levels were indicators that readers of this document can read about in the bi-polar literature to see just how the kidneys are affected. This kidney difficulty could have led to serious health problems had I not gone on to the new medication. As I write this revision of my story I have been on the sodium valproate for one month without serious or even minor problems.

5. Other Physical Difficulties:

Five years ago in 2002 I was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease(COPD) or emphysema which gives me a shortage of breath when I exert myself even mildly. Many millions of people have died from this illness in the last several decades; there are various statistics. My form of COPD is not a serious one. It probably originated in my smoking on average one package of cigarettes every day from the age of 20 to 50. I did suffer from a mild RSI which I have since treated with exercise, thus lessening the effects. These two conditions exacerbated the remaining bi-polar symptoms by making it difficult to engage in an activity for more than short periods of time. The memory problem also contributes, as you can appreciate, to many practical problems in day-to-day life. I mention these things because, although my bi-polar disorder is largely treated, there is a constellation of physical and psychological difficulties remaining. I do not want to emphasize these problems, though, because such descriptions detract from the central theme of this account. Their relevance is indirect.

For the most part in community life I rarely talk about my bi-polar disorder and most people who know me have no idea of my medical history or the difficulties I have lived under physically. I have for many years regarded these difficulties as part of my own spiritual battles that I must face. And they are difficulties that have largely slipped into a low gear in the last several years and do not trouble me significantly. I should mention that a spiritual attitude which has been part of my belief system since the 1950s has helped me more than I can appreciate. This is especially true of the attitude to tests and difficulties in life which the founder of my religion says are often “like fire and vengeance but inwardly light and mercy.”

In the last decade or two there has developed in psychiatry what has been variously called a Recovery Model for treatment and care. This model puts the onus on the person with the disorder to work out what is his or her best way to cope, to survive, in society given the conditions of their illness. Such an individual must work out the techniques and strategies for day-to-day living. With each individual the disorder is idiosyncratic; individual consumers of mental health services must work out what is best for them in terms of these services and in terms of what activities are appropriate for them within their coping capacity in life’s day-to-day spectrum with help from specialists as they think necessary. this, too, is a complex question but I don’t want to dwell on it here unduly. It is my hope that my story may help others work out their own particular regimen of treatment programs and daily coping tools.

6. My Wife’s Illness:

My wife Christine, now 60 years of age, also has not been well for many years--since we moved from Tasmania north of Capricorn in Australia’s Northern Territory in 1982 some 25 years ago. Although she, too, has a long history of different kinds of problems which I won’t go into here, it is the more recent ones that I mention below and that affect our life-style in more ways than one. The doctors do not know what the cause or causes of her physical problems is/are, but they are problems that have made life difficult for her and our life together. Her symptoms have included: dizziness, nausea, back-ear-and-eye ache, headache, among some two dozen or more maladies that I have put down on paper to try and monitor on a daily basis and try and find some pattern. Sometimes, with the aid of steroids or some new drug, or some alternative medical treatment, she seems to recover for a time, but her symptoms eventually return, sometimes mildly and sometimes not-so-mildly. At present she seems to be going through one of her best periods of symptom absence.

Perhaps the one advantage my wife’s ill-health, if there is any at all, is that it allows me to focus on her problems, to talk about her problems, when the subject of health and fitness comes up in our personal and community life as it so often does and has. This keeps the focus off of my own disability and I can talk about exercise and diet this avoiding the reference to my own disability. Consequently, people have little idea of the physical problems I face and much more of an idea of hers. I don’t mind this for I am not particularly interested in talking about my disability. After 60 years it has become somewhat tedious in the telling and the thinking.

It is well known that people with bi-polar disorder are disinclined to talk about their problem in public. Such a situation has the disadvantage that people have little idea of the battles I face in my personal life and, in the end in life, we all face our battles alone—hopefully with a little help from our friends as the inimitable Joe Cocker used to sing over forty years ago. This lack of public admission or opening-up can also have disadvantages. I have a core of friends with whom I can share a broad range of intimacies. Mostly, though, these friends do not tend to inquire and I do not tend to expose these battles any more except to a limited extent. I have little need to ‘dump’ on people, as we used to say, not after 60 years anyway. On occasion and with encouragement I do.

7. Creativity and Writing:

When I finally came to accept lithium without any mental reservations by the early 1990s; when I began, too, to see the end of my teaching career on the horizon and when there was a coincidental reduction in sexual frustrations due to taking up masturbation, I began to write poetry a great deal. One could say I was obsessed; my wife certainly would use that word and I have come to accept that word as a realistic description of my behaviour, especially now that I am retired and devote all of my waking hours when possible to reading and writing. The drive to create never seems to leave me and other activities, domestic and social, serve to provide a useful backdrop and alternative to the constant demand. the demand is relentless, obsessive, compulsive, disinhibited, but, on the whole a relaxed and energtic activity: emotion recollected in tranquillity as Wordsworth once put it. Since the early 1990s until this year, 2007, perhaps a total of some 15 years. the output has surprised me. Fame and fortune, though, have not come my way. This does not really concern me for the act of writing is enough of a motivator. The fluvoxamine, since 2001, has enabled me to work after 11 pm and into 2 to 3 am without the black moods. If I wake up at 4, 5 or 6, say, a degree of emotional blackness/worry is present but the transition to sodium valproate seems smooth.

8. Concluding Statement:

This brief and general account summarizes both the long history of this illness and where I am at present in what has been a life-long battle. I think it is important to state, in conclusion, that I possess a clinical disorder, a bio-chemical, perhaps even an electro-chemical, imbalance having to do with brain chemistry. The transmission of messages in my brain is simply or not-so-simply overactive, not smooth. With increasing diagnostic skills and knowledge and depending on what study you read, some five per cent of the population suffers from this illness. The extremes of this illness have been largely treated by lithium carbonate, sodium valproate and fluvoxamine. This has been my package; there are of course, as I have said, other packages of medication. A residue of symptoms remains which I have described briefly above. The other factors that describe my personal situation I have also outlined and need to be taken into consideration as well to provide a thorough overview of my present context. This overview will help others in various ways, ways I have also outlined above.

I have gone into the detail I have above because I wanted to give readers some idea of the extent of this illness and its subtle and not-so-subtle affects. I really feel quite and quietly exhausted from the battle with this illness and would prefer to continue to live my everyday life quietly and in ways that my health allows. In 1999 I gave up full-time work; in 2003 part-time work and in 2005 most of my volunteer work, except for some Baha’i work largely involving writing. In the years 1999 to 2005 I took part in a wide range of volunteer activities from holding a radio program, to singing in a small choir, to teaching in a school for seniors here in George Town, to organizing a series of public meetings. Now short bursts at writing are about as much as I want to handle, with other short bursts in the form of public meetings and various kinds of social activities which continue to give some variation to my life.

I also take on the inevitable and necessary domestic activities in my home and my wife has become the most critical person in the social interaction scene. These activities and this interaction are all within my capacity for short time periods. Short periods of activity are also necessitated by my chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but that is a separate issue which I do not want to overemphasize or even emphasize here.

In two years I will be 65 and will go off the Australian Disability Support Pension(ADSP) and onto the Australian Old Age Pension(AOAP). I have not worked in full-time employment for eight years for reasons associated with this illness. I have been on this ADSP for six years. Although I have been treated for the worst side-affects of manic-depressive illness, I have little energy, enthusiasm or capacity for full-time employment or demanding social and community activity that entails many hours of interaction. It is for this reason I have been granted the ADSP. My short-term memory loss often feels like the beginning of a dementia condition, although I had a memory test administered in 2001 at the Ann Street Medical Services clinic in George Town and the test did not indicate the beginnings of dementia or even serious memory problems. My wife, though, who knows me well and experiences the affects of this memory loss, has been very concerned and often frustrated by the behaviour associated with my memory loss for several years now. All of this adds to my present incapacity although, again, I do not want to give emphasis to this memory problem because it is really a peripheral, and perhaps unrelated, aspect of the bi-polar disorder.

I trust the above outline provides an adequate information base for you to evaluate my situation. I apologize for going on at such length. I know from experience that some readers tire when required to read long essays, but I felt it was essential to place my illness in context, so to speak. I know there are many, indeed millions, who have problems far worse than my own. But this is my story, my disability, briefly stated. I could say much more and I do in my autobiography/memoirs for anyone who is interested in reading my story. I look forward to hearing from anyone in the weeks, months and years ahead should my experience be relevant to theirs and should they want to discuss these issues further.

Ron Price
23 April 2007
Age 63
No of Words: 5420
______________________FOOTNOTES___________ _____________________________________
My wife, Chris, has suffered from different disorders most of our married life, although the first seven years, from 1976 to 1982 were relatively troubled free.
2 Readers interested in this story in a series of segments can go to the NAMI site, the National Alliance on Mental Illness>Consumers Section>Posting 18/7/06.
3 In 1968 I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist with a ‘mild’ schizo-affective disorder.
4 The death wish, a rare experience until I was about 35, has been a common occurrence in the last 28 years and requires its own description and analysis.
6Symptoms exhibited in childhood and adolescence are largely not described here, although I could go back to the age of two for manifestations of bi-polarism in my relationship with my mother. I discuss this complex question in my memoirs but not here.
6 The affects on my two marriages were a too extensive demand for sex and a tendency to anger; the affect on my employment was, again, the anger and desire for greater stimulation/satisfaction and in life in general a drive to succeed, to achieve. The periods 0-18 and 25-34 had a low incidence of visible symptoms and, although euphoria was rare, feelings of an enhanced emotional-sensory state were common. This, in summary, covers part of a lifetime of experience & attitude.
8 Interested readers should go to the internet site Forums. The bi-polar section at that site has a 22 part outline under “My Story” which places my experience of bi-polar disorder in a larger autobiographical context of several hundred pages. Readers may find this an excellent site for relevant information of a number of disorders, mental and otherwise.
9 My sexual proclivities and their manifestations over these same 60 years are themselves a separate story. With 90% of marriages where one partner is bi-polar ending in divorce and some 20% of sufferers ending in suicide. I feel lucky to have survived and in the same marital relationship for over 30 years. Perhaps I will go into the sexual, marital and suicidal aspects of my life at a later date.
9 For the last 8 years, 1999 to 2007, I do academic work for an average of 8 hours a day and some exercise, relaxation program is essential for my mental balance and the continuity of my persistence. I do not go into the detail of this exercise and its various forms either in recent years or in the last sixty years.
10 I have a file of detailed notes on doctors’ visits, various treatments for various problems and background information. It is a file I opened in 1999 on my retirement to assist me in treating myself for particular medical problems that arise. But I have not commented on them here. The focus in this short account is on my bi-polar problem and some ancillary difficulties.
11 As I write these words I have just gone off lithium and onto sodium valproate.
12 This quotation is from the writings of the Founder of the Bahai Faith and the assistance I have got from this religion He started is a separate story unto itself.
That’s all folks!
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replied May 15th, 2007
You Sound a Lot Like Me! Read On...

I do know this is a huge post, but it may bring insight into others who are new to being bipolar or feel that they are freaks or crazy, etc. They are not and as you I have suffered for so many years-30 some so far...
A lot to follow are from a book or two of mine but, will help define as you have what are stories of life and the following are parts of mine...

I wanted to share some of my thoughts with the readers of my book to help them understand and gain more insight into my way of thinking and writing. The prose or poems written here are basically my thoughts put into words. I try to express myself through my writing. Some of the work is unusual to say the least, but this is how my mind works. I was diagnosed with mental illness at the age of 13, and some years later they diagnosed me as having bi-polar disorder. I began writing down my thoughts when I was 10 years old, creating stories and even being published in a school newspaper at the age of 11.

My purpose in having this book published was to let others who struggle with life on a daily basis (whether or not they have a mental illness) know that they are not alone. When I write my poetry, I have no control over what the outcome is. I just don’t sit down and think about what to write; I write down the thoughts I have in my head exactly as they come to me, and that’s what I call a poem or prose. Each one is different and pertains to the mood I am in at the moment. Perhaps I’m thinking back in time to a bad or good experience and I write about it. At times I can look at an object or a scenario and my mind creates a poem.

So far in my lifetime, I have been in many situations that have taught me hard life lessons. Yes, I have had quite a few bad experiences, and as you can see in some of the work, I have fought and rebelled against love, hope, and fear. But life does go on and I fight every day, to survive. Living with a mental illness is not easy. There are times when my depression gets so deep that I fear I won’t be able to come back out of it. Then there are the times when I become very "manic;" I get on a wonderful "high" and feel as if everything is right with the world. Sometimes I think that I would love to feel this way all the time, but such extreme emotions can be dangerous because they can lead to severe impulsiveness, and not thinking about what risks one may be taking. I’m thankful that I have the rationale to know what to do when I am in either of these extreme modes.I am also thankful for the few great friends I have to help me get through some of the obstacles in life. I believe all my life experiences have taught me many things-how to love, how to give, how to help others, and how to grow both mentally and spiritually. I wouldn’t change who I am or how I am. Life is a gift. I don’t think we choose they type of people we become; rather, it chooses us. Our experiences, our hopes our desires, what we do every day and in every moment of our lives make us who we are. Of course,we are shaped by circumstances and conditions. What time you get up in the morning, where you work, the people you associate with, the way you are raised, who you allow to come into your life-all of these affect us. But these parameters were all set long ago, by a power greater than us humans. Whether we choose one direction or another, it’s the way it was (and is) supposed to be. Some call this "destiny"; I call it "The Path." From the day we come onto this earth, the destination of who we will become begins. Life is a series of lessons taught; we learn from our experiences as humans. We are all individuals. Some of us go through life experiencing much more than others, but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I firmly believe that the people who are forced to go through tough experiences from the beginning of life to the end of it are the ones who get the full meaning of what life is all about. As I have said, I am a survivor of many bad experiences-rape, incest, mental illness, and to top it off I was adopted as in infant. But I’m still here, surviving, taking many things in stride. I thank my lucky stars that I have developed the inner strength to overcome any obstacle. My purpose in life is to help others get through life and to teachthem that it can be wonderful. I want to encourage others, who are going through what I have gone through, not to give up hope, and to remind them they are not alone...We all need an outlet. Perhaps some choose the wrong one but that is their destination, their path, their life. At this time I am working on some other books, one of which is called "The Path". It’s a spiritual sort of book explaining my philosophy of life. On the other scope, I am also writing a collection of erotica. For me, writing words and forming sentences is my drink, my drug, my passion, my medicine.

A few poems from this book:

NOTE: I was outside gathering some of my poetry. The wind stirred up and flew my papers around I looked up at this tree in the yard and wondered about its being alive


Shame and guilt crowd my head;

I see the tree sway in the wind

The mindless limbs

The wind blowing

My papers scattered about

I curse the wind!

It has no right

The tree stares on

Wondering of me

Its purity and clean

The dirty air it breathes

The guts of society

The rambling of voices

Whispers from far away

Cleanse, its duty

It keeps our secrets

Gently in its folds

Mother Nature, she knows the wisdom

She keeps my thoughts

Sees me curse the wind

My frustration taken

NOTE: Going through the different cycles and stages, from highs to lows, from mania to depression-this is what happens (in a nutshell) when I feel "normal" after all the cycles are over for the time being.



The feeling has come over me

I seem to remember

This sensation long ago

A calm feeling, a wave

Not breaking hard on the surface

Softly it sounds

The song of the tide

No wind

Light breeze

The wave breaks softly

Sun shines, its powerful light

The essence of peace

The calm in me

The restlessness, finally exhausted, but free

I am free of extensions

Free of the rush

NOTE: Here I go back into the flat world of depression

"Electricity is Gone"

Emptiness, strangles me

Suffocation, of me, I’m gone

The hold so strong, flatness

Tears flow

Never wanting to subside

No feeling, just flat, numb

Wanting to feel

Pain of loss and suffering

Memories come to surface

All the past, each tune reminds

Like a voice echoing in the night

Memories arise, stir in me, stalk me

Sadness, overwhelms me

Guilt, no reason no rhyme

Never seeing the tunnel, the light

Can’t awaken me

To refresh to change

I seek it I want it

Wanting to be free of it

It holds its grip

So tight, choking me

It’s hated, never wanted

Lasting forever, never an end

Flat, no lines

Waves, electricity is gone

Time is all I hope,

Only time is hope

NOTE: Sometimes when I go from happy or "normal" to depression, I feel a buzz in my head like lightning striking softly in my brain. Then the change comes…


Razor sharp claws sting my brain

Cells wasting away fizzle

Power is losing low is coming

Buzz, oh the wonderful buzz

Feel so high

Buzz hang on

I don’t want to go there

Why must I

The dark place

It’s so sad and miserable so alone

I cannot see--a split second passes

Its done, I’m changed

Again and again

Endure, it will pass

Give into the darkness

Night will come

Suffering will go way

Dread of the pattern


I can no longer bear this cycle of pain

The dread the illness

Sickness of the mind…

NOTE: More depression cycles.


Make it go away

I beg for peace

Mercy on me, my soul

My heart aches, my mind so tired

No rest

I’ve fallen so weary

So ill of the game

Runs so deep

Concentration escapes me

Catch glimpses-another time, place

Send me away

Relief I need

Keep me sane

I fear the moon, the tide, the change

Nowhere to hide

Lock me away

Fill me with drugs, take this pain away

Why must i have these cards?

Always the bad set

Dealt away

Please help me

Take it away

I don’t want to go on

Give me strength

NOTE: When I’m outside I find peace within me sometimes. When I’m calm and mellow or melancholy,this is what I think about.


Do you ever look at the clouds

In this big blue sky,

And see the possibilities of you

Dwell on yourself, imagine your dreams

Think of your inner fears

Share your mind and spirit with the nature around

The past souls of the departed

This earth goes on

But the universe above the sky

They say, it’s a better place

Note: Just seeing a lizard eat a gnat...

"Untimley Demise"

The chamelion gazes

Upon his prey

Fresh black-winged tidbit

Unaware of his untimely demise

The heat of the August day

Blazes on, the heat unbearable at times

The air still, no sound for miles around

The quiet

The tidbit moves,

Stalls, as if he’s in a daze

Slowly he moves around, his wings are broken

He cannot fly

The slithering chamelion with eyes half closed

Looks as if he’s asleep

Hiding behind himself

Black-winged tidbit struggling to fly

As he sees the movement of his taker

The slithering snake-like tongue, reaches so quickly

The prey of capture, held captive

The black-winged tidbit

Met his untimely demise

NOTE: This is another one of my bad days.

"Sept 2004"

Darkness, there is no light

Tunnels and mazes are my brain cells

My mind is so blank, so flat

Emotion is gone

I have no feelings

I am drained

The electricity I seek is gone

The power source is all used up

This flatness, is the urge of life being gone

I’m filled with emptiness, only sadness and sorrow

Is all I feel

Blackness and bleak

Flat and numb

I have no caring in me, no worries,

I await for the light to appear to give me my power

My energy

I whither away I do not care

NOTE: This one is old, and I don’t really recall the time I wrote it



Restless thoughts enter through my eyes

Engulfed in confusion

My mind so filled

Words spoken

Become jumbled

Speaking my thoughts in pen

The ink flows

Words become meaning

Blackness is not my emotion

Today my emotion is purple and red

Vibrant thoughts

Happiness forms inside

Shades of bright neon colors

Glow in me

Afraid of the watchers

They know who I am

But they, afraid of me!

So I speak, I cannot,

Will not hide!

My tongue in spasm mode

Understanding of my thoughts

The realization of me

Who I am

Mania is me

NOTE: I have no clue about this one. I just wrote it way back when


I smell the stench

Of a fresh-planted seed

Unwavering aroma

Permeates the air

Sucking life out

Of all that is small

Dutifully; suiting its purpose

Arousing so many

All is close

The stench surrounds it

Like a fly clamped

To a fresh corpse

Ah, the stench!

We all must revel

NOTE: It was Monday, September 20, and as usual on Mondays, I had lots on my mind. My thoughts were racing a bit and I didn’t want to take anything to slow me down.

Stifle Me

Force upon me the pills the demons and dragons,

Effort to distract my mind trying to carry me away

Cover me up, Flutter and flight

Erase the thoughts I am scarce, as I want

Always taking those pieces away; Only my view

Chosen by some; without this

I am not, who I say , that pit calling my name

I cannot speak I will not give in

In my own language; I keep away

Rampant with vengeance sacred being that I am

Dismiss me, as I am no one

I am someone,

The worldview,

Their eyes and judgement on me

My blood; I give

You do not feel

Your expression, your way

My price and pittance I must pay

Who are you to say? This is this, what I may need

Alas they all Throw me away.

Do you know how it is to feel this pain?

Swell inside my mind, my body

Deepened by these thoughts

I cannot stop my mind from working so fast

Thoughts come in rapid fire,

No ceasing

Fire burns in my soul in me

Wishes unfulfilled

The lonely emptiness,

Gaps to be filled by the unknown

My desire to live for life

Love life

Endless consummation of my own

I search, I seek, I dwell I delve

Deeper inside me

Grandiose, is me I am this creature

The word the thought the phrase

NOTE:A coworker (Jean) mentioned that she had just run into an old acquaintance, who she knew from church. It made me think about the "crutches" the human race reliess on and about a horrifying, deep depression I went into years ago.

"The Crutch"

The differences, between us all,

I hear of religion, and of their desires, beliefs

And ponder about, what makes the difference

The growing of life stage, our minds our struggles

Our psyches, the illusion

What is right and what is wrong?

The quest for all answers,

None the same, freedom of our lives, our bodies and minds

Choices we make, reasoning not intact

What is right, who knows, who sets the stage

Who are they?

All the rules I must abandon

Intention am I a disease, an enigma

What must they think, must I really care

Life is thus short, burn no time

Wasted away, energize, focus

Tunnel from the pit, the sacred land

The passage of time

No turning back, only memories of that past,

The pit engraved in my mind, my head

Falling down, the hated pit, demons await

Disguised in misery, my mind

Frozen in time, why is this?

Repetition, of the past

Hoping and praying it doesn’t come back

That dreaded pit, forcing me down, making me numb

No feeling, emotion drained

I see that past, I embrace the memory

I hold myself, embrace my own

Tell myself, all is well, the pattern

I know repetition, it gives me strength

As the years have past; the pit and the demons

Were so long ago, but always with me

Burned forever in my mind

I’m ready; I know my strength has brought me, precious gifts

The armor I wear, unshielded to the chosen few

Contradiction is me

The time, the day, it’s not me who chooses

Someone inside me,

Something in me

My soul, the heart of me, I’m the twin, the other half…

NOTE: This one is self-explanatory…

"Myrtle Beach, S.C."

The red-haired dragon entered my mind

The sexless loveless creature of my past

To expel my thoughts of it

Afraid to ponder, the thought of it may push me over the edge

I don’t want to go there, my mood, my thought process in this moment

Cannot survive this now,

To gain meaning and understanding

The memory of this always with me

The sexless dragon, fiery breath, his flames burn me hard

Another animal user, in human form

He taketh from me my innocence

I run,

I sleep on the beach

I smell of pigs and foul

No escape

Refuge, I seek the shelter

The dragon’s lair

I hunger for forgiveness, I seek compassion

I’m only 13,

I’m alone, I’m scared, I’m full of guilt and shame

No caring around, afraid of going home

Why am I so scared, I do not know me

Who am I, my name just a word

My thoughts flat and dull

The red-haired dragon finds me

I’m another person

Not knowing me how can I know at the age of 13?

His human form takes me to another place

He maketh me ride him

I feel sickened

So ashamed, I’m bad

I’m sexy, I’m guilty I want it in some way

I seek love I seek warmth I seek caring

Confused in this daze

I awake in another room

Door ajar

Brown devil appears

Sexless brown devil in human form

I bleed, he does not care

I’m only 13

He taketh what he wants

He taketh me so fiercely

He is violation in me

He cannot see

They are all so blind…

During my adolescent years the winter months held a lot of bad times for me. I have yet to heal and to move completely forward and past those years of my life. Sometimes I feel that I am a 13 year old, and have not moved on internally in my mind. I feel as if I am this lost and confused little girl who doesn’t know how to feel or how to love and accept love. I find the way for me to deal with the past and to heal is through my writing.

When I was an adolescent I found myself to be very rebellious and frequently ran away from home. I found myself in numerous dangerous situations. Some of the serious episodes involved rape and incest. I was running from things that had happened to me at home that I could not talk about. My adopted brother, had tried to molest and rape me on several occasions and an adult couple also did the same to me while my parents were away on a cruise. These people were supposed to take care of us and look out for us while my parents were away, well they did some things that were to say the least inappropriate to me a 13 year old girl. This includes sexual interlude with this married couple though I was afraid of it I also enjoyed some of it. This is where the guilt comes in to play. I never told anyone about it until I was an adult.
I kept this and many other secrets from the world I felt that no one needed know these things I thought I was a bad person or since my biological parents gave me away that I was no good. I was adopted as an infant only a few weeks old but I do know that some people who are adopted have identity struggles as I still do. This must play a key factor into my struggle with life and who I am and my own self worth.
I could never bring myself to talk about these circumstances with anyone so I kept it all inside. Thus, causing a lot of guilt and shame on my part. Confusion was a big part of my thought process at the time, I don’t know if the experiences I had caused the mental illness or the mental illness was always there and the experiences I had made the illness come to surface. I wanted to be free and to discover myself and felt that I was just not worthy of loving parents and why should they have me when my own parents didn’t want me? I had many struggles with family life I didn’t want any part of it as most teens don’t. I decided to run and thought if I ran I would escape all the bad experiences. No one needed to carry my burden but me, I was embarrassed and full of shame. Love was something I couldn’t understand and still have a hard time dealing with and understanding. My parents were wonderful people and I was lucky. I know this now and even though I regret some things I cant change the past all I can do is try to heal and go forward with my life. As I have said the healing process is part writing and part looking into myself and trying to figure out what in life I want to accomplish, I feel as if I have a long way to go, but I know I will find my way.

My moods change like the colors of a Chameleon. I have known this pattern my whole life. I call them cycles-as they range from periods of feeling normal to feeling high, as if I am on some kind of drug that makes me feel extremely happy and excited and energetic. Then after these cycles I become depressed. My entire life I have had to live with this it can be very difficult and hard on others that I care for and vise versa. I have pushed many people away from me as I do not wish to burden them with my illness nor trouble myself by not being sure of how I really feel about someone. Many times I have thought about ending my life but I tell myself I will make it to the next cycle where I will feel better and be able to overcome the depression. Yes it’s very difficult living this way, but I have come to terms with it for the most part.
Medication has always been a big factor, but I hope someday I can stop taking medication and try to live life without it and to see if my coping skills are still strong enough to survive. Everyone has their problems and their struggles in life, living with a mental illness for me is sometimes intolerable. Unless you have been in this cycle of Mental anguish - there can be no full understanding of how it fells and what it can do to you,. This is why I write I want to be able to relate to others in the world that cannot express how they feel and maybe I can help another person who suffers and help them feel that they are not alone.

An Experience of my past:
One evening my best friend and I went to hang out with some guys we liked and we ended up in a hotel on the beach the guys left the next day and my best friend. I didn’t want to go home so I decided to sleep on the beach. I was hungry and had no money and didn’t know where to go, home wasn’t the place I wanted to be. The man that ran the hotel said I could stay as long as I did him some favors-sexual favors it turned out to be. I call him the red haired lunatic, there is a poem in my first book of poetry about him. He made me have sex with him and it was utterly disgusting and sick, I felt filthy and so full of shame and guilt but I couldn’t go home, I just couldn’t.

So this went on for a few days and I just don’t know how I did this. Its like I was another person, but somehow it was what I wanted, or felt I had to do. At the age of 13, I was so confused and so lost. One evening he sent me to a room in the hotel and the door was not locked I don’t know why. A man had entered the room and I asked who he was, he just proceeded to come at me and pulled down my panties and raped me repeatedly, I told him I was on my period but he didn’t care. I felt sick and nauseous and he left. I ran out the door and low and behold I ran into my father and my adopted brother the one who tried to molest and rape me many times before. My father had been looking for me for days I am sure, my best friend must have told them where I was. I was taken home and sent to my room and talked to later by my parents. Many more of these and worse incidents occurred. My parents were finally at their breaking point when I was 14 and sent me to a psychiatrist that I refused to go to after a few sessions the only other choice they gad was to send me to a half was house to try to help me. They thought I was on drugs, and though I experimented some, I wasn’t. I was in trouble at the half way house and was asked to leave after 2 months. A few weeks later I was hospitalized in Virginia where I was also kicked out. I ended up in another mental hospital in Atlanta GA. when I was 15 and stayed for 8 months. These experiences and more about me and my life philosophy are in another book I’m working on titled “The Path” Healing 30 years later. The poetry in the next part of this book are just my expressions, thoughts and experiences and the way that I see things in day to day life.

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replied May 15th, 2007
Long In the Tooth
This thread may be, what we used to say so many years ago, "long in the tooth." That is, it may be a little too long for some readers. Give it a shot, as I used to say to my students: skim, scan, check out some of the poetry. You don't have to read it all. It's like many books: you browse; you feel them around in cyberspace. Leave it all with you, dear readers with bi-polar disorder or other readers who simply want to know more about this 'disorder' as we call it these days. Lauren61's poetry, like my posting, my prose, are accounts, personal renderings of experience and can be quite helpful. Over and out--for now.-Ron Price, Tasmania Arrow
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replied May 16th, 2007
Thanks Prince
Very Happy
Thank you so much for your reply to mine of your topic.

It is "long in the tooth" yes, but well worth perusing as you have said. I dont think we can give our web site addresses can we??
One of mine has a lot of info and I do need to add more, but have had lingering depression for a year now. Subsiding just recently.

But again, thanks for backing both of us up.

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replied May 16th, 2007
I'm a Drop Into Sites, Very Occasionally
After anywhere from 40+ to 60+ years of concern with bi-polar disorder, I don't tend to spend that much time at sites concerned with this particular health problem. I drop into some 60 mental health, depression and bi-polar sites, make the occasional posting that I think might be useful and move on. I rarely stay at threads and sites going back and forth, back and forth. I am just too busy. I am far, even after all these years, from working it all out.

I am currently going through a change from lithium to sodium valproate as my chief mood stabilizer with the luvox of six years(2001-2007), an anti-depressant, being reduced by half in the next three days, then none for three days, then venlafaxine as my chief anti-depressant--all under the supervision of a psychiatrist in Tasmania who has specialized in bi-polar disorder for over thirty years. I'm still trying to get the spelling of the new names, learning what an anit-psychotic medication is and differentiating such a medication from a mood stabilizer and an anti-depressant right and me, an English Teacher!

I would not mind a degree in chemistry but, after all these years, it still requires all I've got but, thankfully, not all the time. Lifehas its pleasures. Enough fo now. The ball game is not over yet: chapter, what is it, 63? I know not.-Ron Price, Tasmania. Arrow
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