In the beginning there was nothing.
No bipolar, no hospitalizations, no Lithium and no ECT. There was no disease, surgeries, no therapy and no psychosis.
Hospitals were places I visited people, not places I lived. I never swore in public. I contributed to my family’s survival.
I grew up in various places around Europe, with a wonderful family. I had no childhood trauma, nothing to “blame” my illness on. I moved to Australia around the millennium, went to a good school and lived in an affluent area.
I wasn’t “popular”, but I was well liked. I found a supportive group of friends. I educated myself to the postgraduate level, married a good man and had a baby.
The first indication of any madness started around my mid teens. A bit of an eating disorder, a diagnosed depression, a brief hospitalization. But nothing like this.
After the birth of my baby I dipped into madness once more, which resulted in a two month hospitalization in a “Mother and Baby Unit”. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (type 1), medicated and sent home, all shiny and new.
Yes, in the beginning I was ok. And I was innocent. But this was different. I became acquainted with madness at much more intimate level. Always an advocate of anti-psychiatry, and being convinced that you could “will yourself better”, I began to appreciate the biological basis of mental illness, and the consequent value of pharmaceuticals. I fell deeper than ever before and truly lost my mind.
This is the story of my journey. These are the lessons I learned from a locked ward.