Tuesday, 5 November 2013
The Wacky World of the Manic Depressive
I've become interested in this condition since learning that we have two in-law family members who suffer from this condition and one neighbor across the street. One could have suspected that the amazing Stephen Fry would have the illness and I have just watched a DVD he made, which is an investigation into the disease which was only diagnosed in himself when he was 37, after a history of being expelled from school for various manic misdemeanors and a stolen credit card spree when he was 17 (followed by time in a juvenile correction facility). Luckily for him, his intellectual genius and acting career have made him lots of money as during manic phases, he gets the urge to spend, spend, spend. He admits to having to date 14 i-pods, 12 computers and many other gadgets/clothes etc. He says that at one point during the 1980s he had 11 cars. Wow. To date, he has been resistant to drug treatment, preferring to enjoy the highs and suffer through the lows of the disease. He interviewed fascinating people in this program, including the actors, Richard Dreyfuss and the Star Wars princess, Carrie Fisher, fellow sufferers. The really interesting thing was that of everyone that he asked, "Would you prefer not to have had this illness?", all said that the highs were so amazingly creative and fantastic that they would rather suffer through the lows than never to have had the manic experience at all, when they are living in a super-charged world, somewhere above the rest of us, possessed of an energy most of us can only dream about. While that may be great for them, it can be very hard for their nearest and dearest, and of course, a percentage do commit suicide during the lows, when they feel absolutely worthless. Maybe the rest of us should be grateful to be normal? Do we have a tiny regret about missing something? I've never even had a drug-induced high. Never wanted or needed it though. I've always wanted to be in complete control of my mental state. I count myself very lucky. Even here in Cape Town, there are drug vendors on every corner.