A while ago, I mentioned that Double X Science had put out a call for submissions for personal stories about mental illness. They’ve now posted two. The first is from a man with bipolar disorder.
The manic phases can be highly productive, which they were for me. I was the Master of the Universe during my manic phases, which would last anywhere from an hour to six months. I got a biology degree from a major university. My grades were either A’s or C’s, depending on whether I was manic or depressed. I went on to graduate school, where I barely survived. My doctoral thesis, when I first wrote it, was nearly a single run-on sentence. Someone had to help me re-write it, and basically they gave me a degree just to get me out of the place.
I would go on a job interview and knock it out of the park. When I was an executive for a publicly traded corporation, I would put in 48-hour days, managing financial forecasts, talking to investors, hiring employees, and writing emails to lawyers. I became a highly successful person in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry. But only if you consider success as a string of higher salaries and job titles.
His story doesn’t have to get to the depression, however, to get troubling.
Then there is genegeek’s discussion of the depression and alcoholism that run in her family.
I have no external reason to be depressed. I’m aware of no precipitating event. If I reach, general anaesthetic might be a factor because I had operations within months of each depressive episode.
But my genetic load is probably a bigger influence. My family history is full of depression and alcoholism. In 1st-degree (siblings, parents) and 2nd-degree (grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews) relatives, 11 of 12 people have been treated for depression and/or alcoholism. If we move to 3rd degree relatives, the absolute numbers get higher but the proportion is similar. [Note: I won't draw my family tree to maintain a bit of privacy for my family.] I’d also like to point out that my family members continue their high level careers without compromise unless hospitalization is required.
I don’t know when my contribution will be added, but these are published each Friday. They’re definitely worth keeping up with.