Bipolar Bits: Manic Madness To Depressive Depths (My Bipolar World)

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Hinshaw's father, Virgil, was the son of a prominent leader in the temperance movement who married a former missionary after the death of Virgil's mother. Virgil's relationship with his stepmother was especially fraught and often abusive. Her method of disciplining him consisted of brutal strappings and "lengthy" enemas As an adult, Virgil himself reflected upon this childhood abuse and its formative effects on his personality.

Stephen Hinshaw notes also how the images and themes of his father's childhood seemed to resurface during his manic episodes.

For example, before his stepmother would whip him, she would speak in Spanish to him, requesting that he bare his buttocks. As an adult, Virgil's manic speech would incorporate his knowledge of Spanish, a tell-tale sign that he was becoming increasingly agitated As Hinshaw concludes: "the parenting he received profoundly shaped his self-image, influencing the ways in which he later interpreted many life events, including his hospitalizations. A large part of him believed that he was to blame for his episodes and punitive treatments, perhaps related to some moral weakness.


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Indeed, he seems to have been awaiting and anticipating punitive consequences throughout his life" Hinshaw's candor in revealing these intimate details of his father's childhood is not, however, sustained at the same level throughout this narrative. It is ironic that The Years of Silence Are Past remains relatively silent about the family dynamics of Stephen Hinshaw's own childhood.

The title of the book, by the way, comes from a rather cryptic phrase that appears without explanation in one of his father's notebooks. There are, of course, several good reasons for this silence.

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Hinshaw states, "throughout my childhood I was not aware that my father had any kind of mental illness" Hinshaw's parents were advised by doctors to keep the illness hidden from the children, a fairly common recommendation at the time. This prescribed silence might be charitably viewed as a way of protecting children from the social stigma surrounding mental illness. However, while this silence circumvents a public recognition of the problem, it also reinforces the notion that mental illness is too terrible and shameful to discuss.

Yet perhaps the most important factor influencing the sense of silence in this book is Hinshaw's mother. Hinshaw writes:. This untold set of stories and issues still lingers in the background, as one of Hinshaw's passing comments about his sister makes clear: "Sally has told me that she does not have the same kinds of warm childhood memories of my father as I do" Despite these remaining silences, or perhaps even because of them, Hinshaw has written a book that is a welcome addition to the growing bibliography of books by people diagnosed with mental illness and their family members.

Hinshaw writes in the introduction, "The more that such issues are talked about openly, the better, because the cloak of secrecy that still surrounds these problems may come to be replaced by openness and compassion" 6.

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Even though the "years of silence" about mental illness may not be completely in the past, Hinshaw's book is a successful attempt to give voice to some of these all-too-often muted experiences. Bipolar Disorder. Hinshaw writes: My mother's perspective is crucial to my father's story, but I have tried to respect her understandable desire for privacy.

Living with a partner or spouse with serious mental disorder can be confounding, exhausting, and even terrifying, especially when secrecy, shame, and lack of professional assistance are the norm, as was the case throughout much of my parents' lives. My mother was the foundation of the family for decades, as the following words make clear. Although there is another set of stories and issues about the rest of my family that I could recount, this work is primarily my father's story.

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Is there really a connection between levels of creativity and bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Teen Son, Bipolar Disorder and False and Displaced Memories? Boyfriends Daughter Intrusive Thoughts!? I Really Need Some Advice Not Normal Anger and Irritability in my husband's behaviour I am bulimic for more than 10 years, and it is killing me Now The Dalio Family Professor in Mood Disorders at John Hopkins Medicine, Jamison has become an advocate for others suffering from mental illness, writing extensively about bipolar disorder and the intersection between madness and brilliance. Her upcoming book, Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire , explores the life of the famous American poet whose career was interrupted by frequent episodes of mania.

Jamison : I was teaching and treating patients with this illness and felt like it was important for people to know how common it is—especially in the medical community.

Mania and Depression - Bipolar Disorder

An Unquiet Mind is very detailed and highly personal. How did your colleagues respond? Overwhelmingly, their response was extremely positive. Clearly, there were some people who were less than supportive, but Johns Hopkins could not have been more wonderful or more intelligently supportive. As a young medical professional, did you feel like you could reach out for help? One of the reasons why I wrote the book was that a lot of people are not brought up to reach out for psychiatric care.

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The relationship between creativity and mood disorders

How have you seen attitudes toward seeking help change within the medical education community? People still are reluctant to seek help because of professional reprisal. I think people are trying to change that, and professional organizations are making more of an effort to reach out, to educate medical students and house staff and graduate students about the symptoms of depression and bipolar illness.

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People are much more aware that [mood disorders] are treatable illnesses, and as a result, some of the stigma has lifted. Just like with AIDS or epilepsy or cancer. When people had treatments that worked, the stigma started to drop off. But there is still a lot of misunderstanding out there. It can be very threatening, very alienating. So yes, I think there is a lot of progress, but not enough.


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In medical circles, there is a lack of awareness of how common [mood disorders] are and how many young doctors they affect.