Experiences of a manic depressive 26 years ago

4 Oct 2019

I was head of the Physics department in a Cornish comprehensive school. The headmaster was totally unsupportive and eventually I requested my union to send me an official to accompany me to a meeting in the headmasters office. The official turned up in a white Rolls Royce and caused a bit of a stir. The headmaster produced letters of complaints about my teaching all of which were written by the husbands or wives of the teaching staff. The union official warned me never to reveal this to anybody. At the time I had been stable on a low dose of Lithium for some years and my previous career had involved my teaching in a famous girls boarding school where I was well appreciated.

Eventually I was advised to take sick leave and promptly went into a long period of depression. The local education authority did not support me as I had not revealed my bipolar condition on my original application. (In those days it was impossible to get a job if you revealed a mental health condition even though it was well controlled.)

I worried about what sort of job I could get as I had no intention of teaching again. After several months a friend told me not to worry, she fortold that one day it would suddenly be revealed to me. So it was, after a wonderful experience of crewing on a sailing yacht during which I sailed from Plymouth to the Halford river. I remembered waking up one morning while we were anchored in that river and experiencing such peace in the beautiful surroundings with calm water and serene trees lit by the low dawn light. I recalled this peaceful feeling of a year before and decided that I would sail again.

It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. I cruised the Mediterranean Sea for two years sailing on four different yachts and eventually stayed on one boat as we navigated the Atlantic Ocean taking 28 days and made landfall in Barbados. On this boat we cruised the West Indies for two and a half years and eventually headed for the South Pacific islands. All the time I was able to enjoy these intriguing experiences as I was protected by my Lithium medication. I was careful to see doctors when I could but nobody suggested I should have blood tests. In those days the danger of kidney damage was not widely known.

Some of the islands we visited were totally remote. There were no tourists and the local inhabitants lived by subsistence, fishing and growing vegetables. No shops, electricity or running water and no money. The people were so friendly and really pleased to see us. It was very revealing to discover how happy people can be in these circumstances. I was very lucky to have met them and their delightful children. One door closed for me and so many opened.

This is a summary of a book I have written but not yet edited. I have called it ' Drifting Away.'


A Moodscope member.

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