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.
23 April 2007
No of Words: 5420
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.
5 Symptoms 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.
7 Interested readers should go to the internet site HealthyPlace.com 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.
8 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 Bahá’u’lláh and the assistance I have got from the religion He started is a separate story unto itself.
That’s all folks!