Friday 15 October 2010


I read of people with bipolar affective disorder disorder who see it as a gift. It's part of their chemistry, it's who and how they are, it's something that gives changes and makes things different, with difference from the herd not always being bad. I've yet to meet such folk, my patients tend to see bipolar disorder as a wretched nuisance.

One bloke, though, quite appreciates it. He'd rather not have it, hating the periods of low mood when he describes how melancholia descends and remorselessly harrows him for months on end, but he does like the rest of it. Most of the time he's a naturally cheerful disposition, our team's unclear if this is because we're holding him on average a little on the high side, or if he's one of life's cheery souls.

In any case, he's normally buoyant and optimistic and outgoing. He has no family but has a good number of good friends.

Dr Zorro talked of music. The Jobbing Doctor spoke of music, too.

My patient speaks of music. He loves to play, plays a few instruments, and is decent at this. Friends think he's okay, he describes how folk amiably listen whilst chatting or sharing wine or whatever on an evening. All pleasant enough. I can't play any instrument competently so envy his aptitude, to pick something up and create melody and rhythm and emotion in instruments he plays. He sounds good to me, too, when he's played for me.

What's different is when he's high. When he's high he plays music and it's divine. His friends enthusiastically agree. He has insight into this too, reckoning that his music, when he's high, is genius. He's not that grandiose either, it really is in a wholly different league. Home visits when he's high are a source of both dismay (finding seeing him manic) and raturous joy, as he enthusiastically plays the most incomparable music I've heard.


Milk and Two Sugars said...

I've a friend whose poetry is exquisite when she's manic, average at other times (some of it is framed in my house). She'd rather be a rubbish poet if she had the choice.

(Incidentally, Shrink, though the sentiments in this post are all you, the language reads differently to your normal style.)

Anonymous said...

'The curse the patient lives with is also a gift from Apollo that the healer, the silent bearer of others woes, is denied. '

More likely it's just flow and I'm pretty sure you soar through some days effortlessly absorbed in being a brilliant doctor too.

Artist Paula Rego was on the World Service the other day have a listen to here if you didn't catch interview and she emphatically rejects any notion that her manic depression has been responsible for her artistic output and does so in a way that's refreshingly non pc and mirrors my take on the subject.

Buy yourself an instrument and just have another go, relieves stress.