Coping with the Very Lonely Journey: The Bipolar Question of the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Valentine’s Day is approaching. Many of us view any form of holiday with a sense of dread. A time for celebrating being in a loving relationship is no exception. We know from bitter experience the true heartbreak of our illness - the isolation, the loneliness, the sense of being cut off from all of humanity.


    We click on the TV, we see the commercials, of happy loving couples in some kind of weird parallel universe, noshing chocolate, trying on jewelry, flirting, embracing, kissing under the mistletoe - oops, wrong holiday, but while we’re on the topic...


    The worst holiday of my life was Christmas in Melbourne, Australia back in the late 80s. I had only recently moved there from New Zealand, and had not had time to socially connect. It was my first Christmas away from my daughter. I didn’t know it at the time, but my illness (which I had no awareness of) was about to make me unemployable. My boss - let’s give him credit - invited me to spend Christmas day with him and his family. 

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    Thank heaven for that, but there was this huge gaping hole in my psyche. A month or two later, I would completely unravel. As the late great Irish comedian Spike Milligan once said: “Manic-depression is a very lonely journey."


    So, here I am - all these years later -  Valentine’s Day approaching and no one to celebrate it with. Actually, I’m pretty cool with that. Unlike other times in my life, these days I do feel a sense of conditional connection. By most people’s standards, I would come across as a hermit. By my own criteria, I get out and about often enough. I’m not always comfortable with the world out there, but I’m not at war with it either.


    Most important - there is no hole in my psyche that I feel I need to fill. Girlfriend? - when it happens, it happens. In the meantime - today - I will prepare some kind of baked pasta and load it into my car along with five didgeridoos (yes, you read that correctly) for a “didge jam and potluck.”


    Imagine a bunch of us around a fire, under a southern California moon, honking into hollowed-out logs. What? I’m supposed to be playing golf?


    Okay, I’ve got somewhere to go, something to do. But I know this is not the case for a good many of you. Trust me, I’ve been there - way too many times in my life. And - who can say? - I may find myself in that very same awful place again very soon. Even in the company of others, even in the company of a special someone, I know: manic-depression is a very lonely journey.


    Question: How do you handle those long lonely stretches in your life? How are you coping right now?


    Comments below ...  

Published On: February 11, 2012