Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Seeds of Bipolar

I don’t want to dwell on my past. It fascinates me why I became bipolar and I am curious when the seeds were planted. I read something about Bipolar Disorder having “significant neurobiological and genetic components” and “a basis in psychological, social, and biological roots”. This was posted in a blog that talked about the 9 Myths of Bipolar Disorder. Please excuse my small amount of paraphrasing. The Myth in question was that Bipolar Disorder is a medical disease, just like diabetes.

We come back to the old discussion about nurture vs nature. The nature component is not simply how we were born. The genetic component of Bipolar Disorder suggests that we might be susceptible to becoming bipolar later in life. My feeling is that this is not hard written. The psychological and social effects combine with the susceptibility to make people highly susceptible. I am not an academic, especially in these matters. I am just looking back at my life and trying to make some sense of it. I have been unable to verify that there was a genetic component in my family. I do have suspicions that I haven’t managed to confirm. People have passed away, especially the ones who may have been able to help.

For the sake of my analysis, I will assume that I was susceptible to Bipolar Disorder by virtue of genetic influences. My feelings about my early years confirm this possibility. I cannot access my feelings as a pre-school youngster. I don’t think anyone is alive who could shed light on this period. I only have early photos to tell me what sort of youngster I was. I like to assume that I started with a clean slate and I was moulded by my social situation.

I look reasonably happy in early pictures. I had good friendships with local children but I can’t think back to how I actually felt. I can tell by photos when I moved to grammar school that I had become a very sad individual. I am not sure why this had happened. My earlier school days had been happy as far as I knew. I had some good friends and I don’t have any bad memories. My home life was normal. My family moved from a prefabricated house to a modern house when I was about 8 years old. This moved me away from a lot of my friends. We didn’t move far but we moved to middle class. My father was making great strides in his career with Fords. We had a Ford Eight car and went off on holidays.

It was good to live in the new house with a large garden. It was good because my friends and I had a good neighbourhood to explore. Most of the area was still covered in fields. I think I became a quiet and shy youth when I moved to the Grammar School. It possibly began in the later years in my previous school. I am at a loss to work out why. Going to Grammar school was another separation from my friends. We were still friends but my friend, Paul, was the only one who came to the same school. I think being bussed to school was a big problem. I never met most of my school friends outside school, at least until many years later. Most of the pupils were bussed in from a catchment area around the school.

Grammar school was not good for me. The alternative might well have been worse. The school had no soul. With the odd exception, teachers matched the school. It was a new school and I was one of the first intake to go through a full seven years. The school never seem to find its personality. Every year my school reports said that I was reticent. I don't remember anyone making any attempt to help me. I guess my parents read the reports but they did not register. I was definitely not going to ask for help. After all, I would hardly say boo to a goose. That was encouraged at home. I was a very sad youth and I became a real underachiever. I had talents in some subjects but it rarely showed in my exam results.

I joined a group of other underachievers and the die was set. We were the crowd who never joined in, whether it be social activity or sport. It wasn't done. I managed somehow to get good enough exam results to get to a university of my choice.

The only bright moments in my seven years came by virtue of one enlightened teacher. Jim Hardy. He was one of the younger teachers and he arranged some extracurricular activities. One of these was a trip to see the Beach Boys in Birmingham. This was my first concert and I really enjoyed the outing. It was so out of the mormal humdrum existence. I always had an interest in pop music but seeing a live band was so much better. In my later life, good music was one thing that I enjoyed and I was lucky enough to experience a lot of it. By some good fortune, I was present at several great concerts, including the Who Live at Leeds and The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park. A certain friend of mine is very jealous because he wasn't quite born by this time.

My three years at Leeds University were an oasis in a very dull first thirty years. I didn't know how special Leeds was as an entertainments venue. I think the guy who made it happen was there at the same time as me and my friends. We were so lucky to experience so much good contemporary music. I guess my new found love of the blues matched my personality.

I stayed in touch with many of my friends from Leeds, at least until my bipolar disorder became a problem in later years. Friendships were dented, I hope not without a chance to mend them. I am ever the optimist. My twenties were quite miserable generally but the holidays I spent with my Leeds friends were definite high points.

I feel like I am rambling, as is my tendancy. I managed to pursue an IT career despite a thoroughly miserable home life. I remember my home life was getting gradually worse despite having good jobs and buying my first house. I think I was a prime case for getting bipolar disorder. It just didn't appear until a suitable trigger came along. If I am honest, I had some depressions that might have been a precursor. I would always pull myself together for work on a Monday. I don't think anyone was any the wiser.

Some photos of me in the late 70's to early 80's show me as a thoroughly miserable person. I always remained hopeful and this characterised much of my life. Hope and an amazing resilience. I started a blog post and I am in danger of writing a book. I just had to get it off my chest.

This was going to be chapter one of a second book. I think I have to put my history where it belongs, in the past. I have written a book and I have had two articles in local papers. I think it is time to work for mental health and not dwell on it.


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