Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The deep deep depths of Bipolar Depression

"Being an 18-karat manic depressive, and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation." - Frank Sinatra (1950's)

Well, welcome to my very first blog post. It's been a long time in the making and finally I've decided to start posting. A lot of my posts will be about the continuing battle between myself and my bipolar disorder, but I'll also post other random stuff that I think you'll enjoy or get something out of.

Now, instead of a boring post about how I found out I was bipolar or anything like that, I am going to tell you all about a particular time that was very difficult for me, as well as everyone around me.

In 2010, around May-June, my life was good; well paying job doing what I love (computer programming), beautiful daughter, and a gorgeous wife who was about 6-7 months pregnant with our son. It didn't get much better than that... Except that I didn't feel like that. I was so depressed that none of these things even seemed like enough reason to get out of bed. Nothing felt good anymore; I felt useless, hopeless and pathetic. I would look in the mirror in the morning and wonder things like "what is wrong with you?" "Why can't you just be normal and be happy with what you have?" "If you're so sad with your lot in life, why not just end it and stop the pain?"

The worst thing was that I didn't understand why I felt this way and, probably because I'm not too good with words, I had no way of articulating to anyone how I was feeling or why. This increased my frustration with myself and the world, who I think I expected to tell me why I was like this. This added a massive additional stress on my family, especially my pregnant wife, who had to deal with being heavily pregnant as well as dealing with a moody, argumentative, unresponsive husband.
This went on for weeks; there seemed to be no end. I tried doing things I enjoyed, I was taking my medications religiously and going to my appointments with the doctors I had to, I even tried self-medication (alcohol mainly).

It all came to a defining point one afternoon, while hanging out at a mate's place with some friends. Playing pool, Metallica blaring out of the speakers, a few drinks...it sounds like paradise to me.

As usual, none of this was making me feel happy, and my friends were starting to pick up on this. After a couple of hours I decided to call it a day, lied to my friends about being fine and quickly left. I remember thinking that on the way home that I'd had enough. Now, I hate the words "give up". I hate having a problem left unsolved; a job unfinished; a foe unbeaten. Yet, this day, I had actually given up. I couldn't face all of the depression, the racing thoughts (normally a part of mania, rather than depression) and after nearly 30 years of fighting this battle, I was just plain tired. Exhausted.

I moved inside, my wife had to run an errand then, so I thought my time had come. I sat down, considering my options... Should I just take a handful of pills? Then, out of nowhere, my daughter just walked into the room; walked up to me and for no reason she hugged me, kissed my cheek and said "I love you, dad".

That one little gesture didn't completely cure my bout of bipolar depression, but it certainly stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't do that to my kid(s) or my wife. I recovered from this round of bipolar depression a few days later.

Now, this little story doesn't really have a moral. However, I hope that it encourages you to recognise that depression is a serious illness and that if you do see any of these symptoms, GET HELP!  It's just as serious as any other disease, especially if you end up like me that day.
The numbers are equally serious. One in five Australians experiences a mental illness within a 12-month period. Depression is the fourth most common problem managed in general practice. Mental disorders are the third leading cause of the non-fatal burden of disease and injury in Australia. If you are struggling, or know someone struggling with some type of depression or mood disorder, Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute and your GP are great places to start.

Well, that's all from me today. I hope you all take something from this post. I certainly know that I do feel better having put this all out there. Don't worry, I promise the next one will be a bit more light hearted.

In the meantime, check out my wife's blog, Accidentally Bad Housewife. It's pretty awesome. 



  1. Hey Bushy

    I have to let you know that I am most interested in what you have to say about what it is like to be bipolar and the struggles it brings to your life. Your journey may help me understand something of what my mother was going through and perhaps to understand her ultimate death due to suicide.

    New Year's Eve marked one year since she felt the need to end her suffering. For me, it was like it happened only yesterday. The pain is still so raw...and it may help you to know that the carnage that is left behind is so great. I know that she was suffering and that this was what she wanted, but it has left me feeling guilty, regretful, angry and ultimately extemely sad. I have had to attend numerous counselling sessions (as have my children)and have at times had great difficulty in functioning as a 'normal' human being. But I guess that this is only a fraction of what she was going through, but I'm just saying that I don't see how her actions 'fixed' anything.

    I am happy that you know you have this illness and are willing to share it with us. The greatest thing for me was to understand that mental illness is a real disease, just as destructive as any aggressive cancer...and I think the biggest breakthrough for us all would be to shake the stigma that is involved at any mention of a mental illness.

    I guess I just want you to know as well, that you are not alone in your fight...there is help and people that care out there and you do mean the world to many people. I have dealt with undiagnosed mental illness for the last 40 years and have seen many things come to pass...don't let it define you as a person xxx

  2. Hi Penny

    Thanks so much for the comment. It's sounds cliched, but knowing that others are experiencing the same things and that people read do care enough to read & comment really do help with getting through the day.

    I suppose the main message that everyone needs to communicate is that it IS OK to have a mental illness, and getting help doesn't make you insane!

    Thanks again!


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