Sunday, 31 August 2008

The Bipolar heredity gene

I wrote a book about my son who has Bipolar disorder. This is not news. It's out there for all to see. Interestingly, and as a consequence of my having written the book, I've had some interesting feedback from various people. 'You were opening yourself to be judged' said one. Another said that he couldn't recommend the book to a friend whose son is going through almost the identical mood swings and bizarre behaviour patterns as my son, because, he opined, 'It has no happy ending...' Well, there is no 'ending' or, as some people would prefer, 'no closure.'

This is an on-going illness and, for Zach particularly, one that we hope would have a 'happy ending', only that's for the future. At the moment he's fine. When I finished the book, things weren't so clear cut.

I don't mind being judged. We are all judged one way or another for whatever we do. I wrote the book to bring the subject to light and as an aid for those families who are specifically going through the trauma and stress of seeing someone they love change personality so dramatically because of a chemical imbalance in the brain. I think it somewhat disengenuous to proscribe it for the very reasons that people need to read it: the recognition that their friend or family member is experiencing symptoms of a ghastly illness but that they are not unique in their suffering and that other families have experienced almost the identical emotional stress and anxieties.

This brings me to the heredity factor. I found out this week that a cousin's son is suffering from chronic mental health problems. I don't feel that I need give chapter and verse on the rest of the family, save to say that if I lined them all up, on both sides and going back a couple of generations, then the Priory would have plenty of fodder for full-time occupancy! There has to be a heredity gene. How it comes about is cause for research, especially among race/religious backgrounds. All I know is that there is a great reserve in my own family that could be used for specific research protocols.

Will I be judged for proclaiming this? Will it make more people recommend the book because they feel that realistically they should? Who knows... Maybe when these same people come to terms with the fact that they, too, could experience mental health disorders in their own families, then they may reconsider their high and mighty positions.


Kate said...

Your book was much needed. Most people don't understand mental illness. It is all around us and even the medical profession are still trying to figure it all out. Mental illness is painful for all including every member of the extended family. As a professional in the mental health field in schools I know how hard it is to write about a painful part of ones life. Bravo Ros.
Kate Griffin, Los Angeles

Ros Morris said...

Thanks so much Kate. It is so hard to get the message out there. However much it is reported in the media, the spin is always focused on the wrong part of what Bipolar disorder really is. It's not simply a wealthy woman spending money on shoes or designer clothes. It's about young men - mostly - whio, suffering the most awful symptoms of madness, then self-medicate with all sorts of awful drugs and the outcome of that. Many thanks for your words of encouragement.

Nikki Reynolds said...

Hi Ros
Maybe your friend should try looking at the positive aspects of your book, not just the heartbreaking. You and Sam are still together, an achievement not to be underestimated with all that you've been through, Zach is still here too and has many happy and creative moments, your lovely daughter is grasping life with both hands and your book has provided your readers with an enhanced level of understanding of mental illness, family love and relationships and of course, bureaucracy. There are a few lucky people out there who have not been, in some way, touched by mental illness. For the rest of us, to say that your story has NO happy ending is a bit trite.

Ros Morris said...

Thanks Nikki. You're absolutely right. In fact, what part of life can one get absolutely perfect? The only 'happy' ending is the one that ends in a coffin! We're far from that here. Every day without the dreaded telephone call or the son who
walks in dazed and wasted is a good day.