It’s 1988 and school days evaporate as a Boeing ascends a young woman into her future. Into a bourgeoning life. In London, an aperture opens. A gateway to a new read of the world. In a specialist’s office – “specialist” in what she wonders? – within only an hour, this stranger sends her blindfolded, never told why to her first disempowered boarding in a mental health hospital.
Her parents begin their forced habit of rescuing her, and on yet another Boeing, now heading backwards in her life, she makes a grab for a confidential letter addressed to a designated psychiatrist in South Africa.
From an economy seat, she discovers she has a mental health illness with two contradictory words conjoined: Manic-Depression.
But where? Where is the site of this illness? Where did it come from? She cannot definitely will not, accept a diagnosis without origin. Her mind spurred on by intractable denial, repeatedly manifests the illness. Hers is a valiant fight for perceived justice. Her enemies are Western psychiatrists, psychologists and allopathic medication.
Induced by denial she cannot see the recurrence of illness cycles. A maze of suffering and memory effacing medical interventions, ethereal delusions of compelling and yet concurrently repelling hallucinatory hell seem not to exist when life is in recovery from an episode. There is no apparent threat to her life when she is taking her baby steps into the normative world again. And so it is, that time and time again, denial bolsters itself and she lets go of recovery to plummet into the fastened imprints of illness: life-threatening horrifying delusions of mania, frightening psychosis and fathomless darkened depression.
A mental health illness trajectory is her life.
There isn’t a pivotal point when her battle transmogrifies into a crusade for freedom from the personal devastation of diagnosis. She becomes bored. It comes with ageing and with tiring of the struggle, the wearing down of years of traumatic experience. She yearns for a reliable and meaningful experience in her precious human life. She chooses joy and adventure. Decades after diagnosis she moves with insight and accumulated wisdom garnered through the journey of her mind. Her mind rests and denial is rubbed out. Acceptance finds its breath, and so does she. A life reclaimed is hers now and she strives to find a way to accept Bipolar, manage its potency and stay in remission. Remission is the greatest achievement for an illness that cannot be cured.