My daughter was diagnosed with the more serious form of bipolar illness BP(1) in 2003. Today she is in a long-term relationship, is expecting a baby and is helping other newly diagnosed young people to handle the highs of the disorder. Managing the highs, along with a wellness plan, is the key to getting better. It is the lows (black depression) that inevitably follow on from the extreme highs that are the real danger, for they lead to suicide or death by misadventure in a high proportion of cases. She is one of the lucky ones whose illness responded (after some time!) to lithium and other needed drugs, some of which were able to be discarded, others “tweaked” during the months and years following on diagnosis.
I was my daughter’s principal carer after she was diagnosed and it was a long and bumpy road to recovery. The longer one stays away from the psychotic episodes, through staying on the pharmaceutical medication, the better the prognosis seems to be for a full recovery. Yes, I use the word “full” because I see my daughter able to live a normal life and still keep her vibrant creative personality.
An interesting background story to the treatment of BP is that the Greek physician, Galen, thought of as the father of modern medicine, used to treat patients with alkaline baths for conditions called “mania” and “lunacy” two centuries after the birth of Christ. It is now known that lithium salts are abundant in many spring waters on the earth.
Another important point to note is that it was an Australian researcher, John Cade, who stumbled upon the importance of lithium for manic depression, now known as Bipolar Illness.
Like many who have struggled with an illness, our daughter is special.