“If you had to describe yourself as an animal,”
asked Christopher Robin of the Bipolar Disorder sufferer,
“which animal would you be?”
“A donkey, a bear, and a tigger.”
Came the Bipolar Disorder sufferer’s reply.
During yet another sleepless night I once again reflected on my poor mental health. And it was during such reflections that I formulated the above snippet of conversation in my mind.
You see I have always had a fondness for A. A. Milne and the Winnie the Pooh stories. Indeed those who know me well will probably know that a couple of Winnie the Poohs actually live in my bedroom. Hm, I wonder, “Is it acceptable for a very large, heterosexual man, who is almost in his 50’s to own (let alone to publicly admit to owning) such items?”
Well actually they are gifts from folk I hold very dear and are intended to be used as comforters when the “madness” gets too great for me to cope with.
For the record, I have a fondness for a great deal of different types of literature including J.R. Tolkien and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings stories but, having just checked, can confirm that to my knowledge there are no Hobbits living in my bedroom.
But I digress. The point of the snippet of conversation that I formulated above is actually to offer a simplistic (perhaps an over-simplistic) explanation of Bipolar Disorder and to consider. For the respondent’s answer to Christopher Robin’s question offers not one but three different animals – each of which featuring in the Pooh bear stories and each demonstrating a different facet of the sufferer’s experience.
The donkey – Eeeyore – low, lethargic, depressed, pessimistic and often times subdued.
The bear – Pooh – relatively normal (if such a state exists), friendly, casual and loveable
The tigger – (Of course Tigger himself) – bouncy, manic, fool-hardy, spontaneous and often times uncontrollable.
In respect of my own mental health, “Bipolar Disorder” is one of the numerous diagnosis once bandied about in the past but I have to be honest and say that I am not convinced that it would be accurate. Perhaps it is being altered, impacted or confused by the Paranoid Schizophrenia or perhaps not. It is just that, generally speaking, I find my “Tiggerness” is somewhat less than I would expect and indeed my Eeyoreness greater than I would expect – were I to go by the classic interpretation of Bipolar Disorder.
Actually, perhaps nowadays it is all fairly academic since there appears to be a great reluctance by doctors and psychiatrists to hand out any form of diagnosis and a far greater enthusiasm to simply hand out some form of chemical or pill and a deferral via the repeat appointment. Which is perhaps somewhat confusing since it seems to me to be entirely natural to “want to know” just what is wrong with you.
Now in the interest of fair play I have to make acknowledgement of the level of demand already placed upon doctors and psychiatrists alike but I cannot help but wonder if (through poorly set up and even more poorly managed health care systems) we haven’t simply entered an age of mental health damage-limitation rather than a true desire or ability to bring about cure?
So where does this leave us? Or more specifically to myself, where does it leave me?
I guess it leaves me in the same place I have been for such a long time now… In a constant state of flux and a very vague and nondescript confusion of “Bipoohlar Disorder verses a perpetual state of Eeyoreness.”