It is now obvious that my father was bi-polar. In those days it was put down to moodiness, and if it went too far you had a 'voluntary' session in the local 'loony' bin (I spent my childhood very near one, the patients who were 'allowed out' my mates and I found hilarious – even flashers did not cause us much alarm).
In my thirties I seemed to be going the same way, was carted into a London Hospital with ambulance bells jangling and let out with a 'discharge' card: 'suffering from mania'. My husband was then told to keep me asleep for a week, throwing a couple of Mogadon when I woke up. All through this scary time I had one thought, I must not harm my children, and I would walk away up the field when I felt my control slipping.
Now I am coping with a husband with Alzheimer's disease – nothing unique, hundreds of thousands of us are 'coping' until we don't. Despite every strategy, my 'lid' flies off more than Stevenson's watched kettle.
When it all started our charming GP, a Korean who came here with his parents, said 'Be kind'. I printed the nicest picture of my garden, and wrote 'Be kind, stay positive, keep cool'. As a mantra it's been binned – I have a picture of a most beautiful mosque (no significance) with 'I will live' scrawled across it.
Keep cool? Joke. I'm not hysterical, but I have hysterics. I used to despise tearful women, but I am too often in tears. My pride is in tatters, it must be possible to manage this scenario, deflect rows, reason kindly when the fifth pair of shoes is rejected, gently suggest that if the room is baking you turn the electric fire off. Those who are in the same position will know the value of the word 'respite'. Not just a lazy Sunday morning to do what you like, but a day to be savoured, to be normal, and 'keep your hair (lid) on'.
A Moodscope member.
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