November 22, 2012


Filed under: Uncategorized — Knitman @ 7:34 pm

I have been promising for a while that I was going to talk about my experience with bipolar disorder. I have mentioned it before but I’ve never been into any detail about it. I guess it is not the easiest of subjects to discuss.

No matter what people say there is still a stigma attached to mental illness and people are afraid of it.

My mood swings started in my teens. They in fact started in my early teens but I guess they were not so obvious then. They did not become really obvious until I was 16 and 17 years old and even then nothing was done about them and in fact they were not even recognised.

I had long periods of the most crippling depression. I did not want to go out I thought that I was the ugliest and most repulsive person on the planet. I thought that just by going out people would know that I had been violently and sexually abused throughout most of my childhood and they would see what an evil person I was. This is what I remember the most. The crippling depression.

However I also had periods of elation. During these periods of elation I felt absolutely wonderful and I felt that nothing but nothing could stand in my way and I could in fact do anything. I was accepted into drama school. I cannot remember the name of it but I believe it was in  Chiswick. Of course by the time term time came around I was no longer manic so of course I did not take up the course.

These periods of elation became more frequent and more extreme. I would talk non-stop to anybody and my subjects would flit from one to another.

John came home from work  one day to discover that between him leaving in the morning and him returning we had somehow gained seven Persian cats.

These highs had their downsides because I could turn nasty in a split second if I felt that you were trying to make me unhappy. The during these periods of high I was not the bullied victimised sexually abused little wretch. No! I was the very talented Colin who could conquer the world and show the world just how worthy and just how talented and just how truly wonderful he was.

And then, just like that, the little pathetic self hating terrified Colin would return and with it the consequences of my manic behaviour. I had to turn up at a hairdressers to tell them that I did not indeed want to be a hairdresser. I did not go as far as to say that the very idea horrified me. They were not at all pleased with me because they had put quite some effort into a person they thought had a talent and flair. But those poor people did not know that the person they were dealing with did not exist.

The worst of this to me was that I was then involved in the passion of my life the Lhasa Apso.  Now I know I do not need to tell you who are involved in the world of dogs just how awful people can be.  I quickly earned a very negative reputation. I would perhaps be more understanding of it if that reputation was based upon my inability to look after dogs. If I exhibited cruelty towards dogs. However no matter how ill I was my dogs always came first and they were always spotless and loved.

There was a very well-known lady named Daphne Hesketh Williams who was one of the people who took me under her wing because she knew that I was very disturbed young man and she had met my family and had immediately understood why was so disturbed. I will always remember that woman with gratitude. 

There were other people  who also accepted me as I was. They did not seem to object to the constant phone calls. Let me explain that these phone calls might arrive 30 minutes after the previous one only to repeat everything that I’d said in the previous phone conversation. You see, I did not remember. When I was manic my memory was like that of a blackout. And so coming down from a  a manic episode was a pretty terrifying experience to me because it meant that I had lost weeks if not months of my memory. And I would find that there were people in my life that I had no idea who they were and I would also find that I had upset or offended other people  whom I knew before I went into my manic phase.

This story could become extremely long and probably extremely dull. The trouble is there are people still involved in my breed who remember the mad and unstable person that I used to be and those people still judge me for how I used to be and they still cause me trouble.  They don’t appear to understand that people can change.  I guess if I am honest I think these people do not give a shit  about how painful my life was then nor how painful was my recovery to become the man that I am today. No, I think these people feel superior to me. I think that this is what is behind some shit that has been flung in my direction which I cannot really talk about right now  but there will come a time when I shall be able to talk about it and I most certainly will.

 The other thing of course is that some of the so-called friends that I had who often reminded me what wonderful friends they were for sticking by me when others did not, turned out to not be friends at all but people who were able to see the advantage that could be taken of my mental and emotional state.  This they certainly did.

I am still reeling from the shock of discovering that people I looked up to and trusted were not my friends but were people who used my good nature and generosity and also what they knew about my psychological state in order to benefit themselves. I cannot think of anything more wicked than to  become a friend and confidant to somebody who is severely disturbed because of the abuse by others, only so that they may use that psychological disturbance to their own advantage. This they clearly did. When I think of the years of painful self-doubt that I suffered with because sometimes I did feel in my gut that something was not right with my  friendship with these two people but instead of acting upon it I punished myself severely for being so wicked as to even think such a thing of people who were so good to me as they kept telling me.

  Today life is very different. My mood is stable. I enjoy happiness and fun and joy and excitement and pleasure. And like anybody else I have my dark days.

The miracle for me is that I dress the way that I do and I dare to attend dog shows with thousands of people dressed in a manner that I know makes me stand out. I loved every minute of it. Yes, it really does terrify me but I do it anyway. The amount of times I have arrived at a dog show and the first thing that I do is throw open my door and  retch. but then I pull myself together and I enjoy my day and I can honestly say that I do not care one jot about any negative comments I may or may not receive instead I concentrate on the good and decent people.  One need have no fear of me suddenly becoming manic at a dog show and attempting to show my dog completely naked!!

 I have put in an enormous amount of work into becoming the man that I am today. Even this year which has been extremely stressful with the house renovations and with my wedding has not brought upon any serious mood alteration. Yes, I have had periods of hyperactivity and I have also had periods of depression but these are very mild when compared to what they used to be.

Just to show how far and how genuine my recovery is I have remained unmedicated for bipolar disorder for over 10 years now.

For those of you who would bring me down, or who would try to because there’s absolutely no way that you will succeed I feel nothing but sorrow for you. You must truly be hurting deep inside your soul to wish to add misery to a person who has had such a life. You also betray yourself by revealing how much less you think of yourself and how much you think of me. Instead though of hating me and trying to pull me down you could try working upon yourself and ridding yourself of the poison within you that causes you to attack me. I am well aware that I’m not your only target but this blog is about me and I’m just letting you know that not only do I know the game you are playing and the moves that you are making, I am also letting you know that you will fail and you will feel as miserable as you always do because bringing me down is not where you will find your happiness.

For the rest of you the mostly kind and generous people, there truly is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to mental illness. What you see with me is what you get. I am recovered. I am who I am. I am who you see me to be. It is up to you to decide whether you take a chance and gain one of the most honourable friends who could possibly have or you decide the opposite and play safe and never get to know me.



  1. What a wonderful heartfelt message , you seem such a warm well balanced individual so well done you Colin.

    Comment by christine macdonald — November 23, 2012 @ 8:52 am

  2. Colin, I almost cried when I read your post—I can totally relate because I, too, am what my therapists call “mentally ill”. After a lifetime of mental problems, they finally diagnosed me 5 years ago with “rapid-cycling bi-polar” disease. My symptoms were terrifying and self-destructive to myself and so I’m on a boat load of meds which do help me greatly.

    But I wasn’t diagnosed and treated for many, many years—and so I wish I could go back in time and be treated properly before I did so many self-destructive things in my life due to my symptoms and old ways of thinking. Even now, with good medications and good therapy, I still experience visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations every now and then. The horrible times of depression are sickening. And it took them years to get the right combination of meds, some of which have some pretty bad side effects. They also diagnosed me with PTSD (childhood abuse and also frightening times in foreign countries) and OCD. Not to mention how I am in recovery for alcoholism due to my habit of self-medicating the disease with booze for all those years that we didn’t realize that I had mental illness disease. My family has finally come to terms with the fact that I have bi-polar, etc and that I’m not just being difficult “on purpose”. This is nice for me but I remember all the years they treated me badly, as if I were a criminal, and didn’t believe that I had no control over the progression of this disease.

    One thing, I adore the way you dress. I, too, have a “personal style” which is not always appreciated by people who don’t understand. One of my therapists even said one time: “Oh, YOU BI-POLARS and your colors!” I replied: “Give me two colors which don’t match and I’ll put them right next to each other.” Yesterday, at the big family Thanksgiving dinner, I wore a somewhat controversial outfit but I loved it and didn’t care a flip if anybody else did. But my sister-in-law actually told me I looked “fantastic” and I hugged her so hard for understanding. And my eccentric taste in colors is reflected in my knitting, of course!

    Thank you so much for sharing this about yourself. I know how hard it is to talk about this topic because some people understand—and some people don’t. But your post cheered me up about some things going on with me right now. Thank you, Colin.

    Comment by Bo — November 23, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    • I too am moved by your response. It is responses like yours that I have had over the last years of writing my blog that have kept me doing it. What I first considered to be a very self-indulgent self-centred thing I now realise is nothing of the sort. I feel privileged to get responses such as yours and believe me they have a very positive effect upon me. What I’m about to write sounds completely ridiculous because on the one hand I want to say how far away that Colin is and yet it seems like only yesterday also. There is not a day that goes by the time not reminded of where I came from and not a day goes by that I do not feel grateful for what I have. I still often wonder “why me?” With regard to the fact that my life has turned out to be the wonderful one that it is. I have no idea. I know many people who put in a great deal of effort into recovery and they didn’t make it. I would not go back to the Colin that I used to be for anything. dealing with 24/7 physical pain is by far the easiest! I am happy with where I am.

      Thank you for having the courage to write to me and no that you’re writing to me affects my spirit in a positive way and it helps my recovery path. I never consider myself recovered. I know that that day will never come. One does not ever become recovered from abuse. However one can live extremely well with it. And by that I do not mean that one can live very well whilst being abused! No! The abuse has to stop and has to be gotten away from. What I mean is that the abuse leaves scars. it always will and no scars will never go away and they are fragile and there will be times when no scars become open wounds again. However this becomes much less frequent and much less severe the longer one is in recovery. My own experience has been that 12-step programs are not necessarily the right place for abuse survivors because that is the primary problem. Yes one can stop drinking or stop drugging but without addressing the real issue, the abuse, one will never stay stopped or another addiction will take its place. Of course one must stop doing life-threatening things because there is no recovery with no life. I guess that what I’m trying to say is that I found much emphasis was put on staying sober and ignoring the past. In the case of we abuse survivors this is dangerous. Very dangerous indeed.

      Comment by knitmanyarn — November 23, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

  3. Colin thank you for sharing so honestly about your journey. You are an amazing and beautiful human being. I have a friend with bipolar and know how frightening and destructive it can be to a person and to all their relationships. Thankfully you have people around you who have loved you enough to persevere with you thru the had times. If I were there, I would give you the biggest hug. I admire you.

    Comment by rbackhaus — November 23, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

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