Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bleak winter cold and a tragedy in Scotland

This winter just goes on and on. Walking on the Heath today, the icy north-eastern wind permeated my fleece-lined jacket and even though I was wearing hat, gloves, cashmere scarf and fur-lined boots, it was as if I had been dumped down on the Russian steppe. There were still rivers of ice along the paths. Yesterday it was such a gift to see the sun, even though it was bitterly cold for most of the day. Today it's grey again and the sparse spring flowering bulbs are attempting to show their faces above the tundra. There's a number of violet crocuses that can be seen, alternating with the green shoots of daffodils but the sky is leaden and it almost looks like snow again. Tomorrow we are off to sunny climes where it's predicted to be 36C on Thursday and 'Beth' is sweltering in shorts and t-shirt. Who's to complain about that!

A terrible story in the news today. An asylum seeker, obviously seriously mentally ill, imposed his will on his young wife and their 21 year-old stepson, and the three of them jumped from the top of a council block in Scotland. How awful. It was reported that this man was 'fine 90% of the time but off-the-wall the other 10'. I would have to think that it was the other way around. Or maybe not. Maybe you just have to be of unsound mind for that finite 10% in order to jump from a skyscraper. Or any building. But his family? Were they mad too? Could he have been so persuasive that the other two, in desperation for his sanity, decided to end their lives in this fashion?

While walking the dog yesterday (now that I can as my back is about 85% better), I bumped into one of my fellow volunteers from the local hospital. 'I read your book!' she told me. 'It was amazing...' (that's nice of her). She's going to recommend it to a friend whose daughter is also Bipolar, 'although not as bad as your son is...' My son is good at the moment. When he was around yesterday he told me that he now wants to return to university and take a degree that is challenging and worthwhile. 'I've done the teaching course and found that I could handle it and much more...' he told me. 'And I'm taking the meds properly.' Wow. Progress.


Anonymous said...


Anne said...

I just finished reading your book. It was heartbreaking...and expressed some of my experiences and all of my fears. My son also had his first sign of bipolar disorder right after he turned 18 and took LSD to celebrate. We also did not understand what was happening...your description of Zach's first experience reminded me very much of what my son went through.

It's 3 years later, he doesn't take his medication (Depakote) although he hasn't been honest with the psychiatrist about this (whom he sees twice yearly). He does take Ambien to sleep and that's the only reason he even visits the doctor.

He's a 3rd year student at a university and for the most part I think he concentrates on his studies. But he uses recreational drugs (like Zach) when he's home from school and is terribly unhappy with himself and his life. His behavior is similar to the way you described Zach in the book - very self-centered, absolutely no gratitude, rude to us, no concept of how his behavior damages others, etc.
He's only had one extended psychosis (about 6 weeks - when he was 18) but nearly slipped again recently....somehow took some Risperdal and salvaged himself. He also doesn't admit to his illness and is paradoxically willing to put random substances into his body, but not recommended mood stabilizers.
I would love to correspond with you personally. Please let me know if this would be possible.

Ros Morris said...

Hi Anne,

Thanks for leaving me your story. Do, please, get in touch. My email address is