Saw a very moving and frank TV documentary by Stephen Fry last night, going through his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder. You couldn’t help admiring the bloke for being so up-front about the terrible situations that the illness has gotten him into, including imprisonment for credit card fraud on one occasion.
It could have been a classic celebrity fess-up, but to his credit Fry also talked to ordinary people who had to live as best they could with a horrible illness. Which made the whole thing much more powerful. And I admired him for discussing the reasons why he’d rather not take medication.
I don’t suffer from full-blown BPD myself but I do have what the diagnosis-happy Americans would describe as cyclothymia, which is a milder version. One problem with it, which is getting worse as the menopause kicks in, is that it’s very tricky indeed to get the meds right. I noticed a while back that I was sleeping badly, also that I was writing a lot more. People, family especially, were commenting on my embarrassing behaviour, the jokes that only I laughed at, etc. I was going over the edge. Cut down the meds and I became more normal. But I missed the writing.
If you are a famous, creative person, moving in circles where cocaine use is affordable and endemic, where you can pick and choose your hours and frankly, you are expected to be a bit odd, you are going to calculate rather differently from someone who has to keep an everyday family show on the road. And Fry was very honest about this, it seemed to me.
I’m looking forward to the next installment.