My parents had children soon after they married. Years later, my mother went to the doctor to inform him she had reached the menopause. He informed her she was pregnant. Some months later I was dragged kicking and screaming into a world where my siblings were almost grown up. They were “the boys” and I was “the wean” (for the purpose of this tale, I’ll conveniently forget my sister who bridged the gap between us). By this stage in his life, my poor dad was forever at the doctors. I later discovered The Doctors was a pub just outside his work. Apparently he used our house almost as a wet hostel; I only remember seeing him on a few occasions before he died when I was nine.
My mother was a bizarre lady who lived her life in books. Her adopted family consisted of Lady Macbeth, Mr Darcy, Father Brown and Captain Bolitho. She had little interest in her real family who were merely a burden on her crazy ambitions to write, perform and sail the seas (boy, she would have loved the internet). Despite being raised in the slums and living in abject poverty, she spoke perfect English, extremely poshly and extremely loudly! She was an out and out snob who looked down her nose at the proletariat that surrounded her. With regard to our hard working neighbours, “Any fool can scrub a floor!” she would declaim loudly on a daily basis as she lay around smoking, drinking and reading in a filthy, unkempt flat. You won’t be much surprised to learn that we never really integrated with our community in Glasgow.
Having a reading age beyond my years was misinterpreted as intelligence when I went to school so I was always streamed in with the brainy class. After dad died we moved 100 miles away to a rural town. Things at home went steadily downhill and it was best just to stay out of the house. So I hung out on the streets at night with older kids and would always be the last to go home. Inevitably my night time pals were the bad boys. As I entered my teens I started playing the guitar, all my musical friends were hippies. In short I never belonged to any group. The bovver boys hated the hippies and everybody sneered at the brainboxes. My mates were all three. As I got older I spent more time playing in bands but never really understood my hippy friends.
These folks who refused to conform to society’s norm were the most conformist group of people I ever met. You could spot their “uniform” a mile away and if you didn’t live in a communal flat, listen to Neil Young, read the Egyptian Book of the Dead and smoke dope, you weren’t in! Don’t get me wrong, these were my best pals but I just didn’t subscribe to that ideal. Worst of all I had to keep secret the fact that I didn’t just love the Floyd, I loved all sorts of music, including some of the cheesiest novelty pop songs ever written.
Ha ha you think. Surely you must have felt a sense of affiliation with men in general. Err... well… no. I’ve never been interested in sport and most guys are virtually obsessed with sport. Scottish sport = football = religion = sectarianism = FIGHT! Sport (and the national hatred of “the English”) is largely what gives Scots a sense of patriotism. That’s probably why I don’t feel particularly Scottish.
Anyway, I’ll try and (eventually) cut to the chase here. When I was diagnosed bipolar, I thought I had finally found a group to affiliate with. I was sure I would find kindred spirits, people who were gentle, creative, dreamers, artists, tolerant, broad minded, sensitive and liberal in their politics. The sort of folk who, had they been adults in the Summer of Love, would have donned flowers and made haste for San Francisco. So I merrily started to surf through the links in Bipolar Planet. Shock Horror! Some of these people seemed to be aggressive in their manner. A few described themselves as radical feminists. Now, living in a cultural backwater I had never heard of a radical feminist but from what I can gather it seems to be an angry woman who feels she has been abused/marginalised by men in general (perhaps at this stage I should warn Blogger to increase my bandwidth for a huge volume of incoming hate mail). Anyway, I was intrigued to learn from this blog that even this marginalised group marginalised it’s own sub groups, such as “women who were not born women” and “women who do not have sex with other women”. At this point I do my best Columbo impersonation and say “now that’s very interesting” (I really should get out more). It’s fairly safe to say that I’m unlikely to ever be affiliated with this group. I was also surprised at the FOAD folks, some of whom are my internet friends (God, that sounds as cheesy as “some of my best friends are gay” or even better, Todd Rundgren’s classic, “some folks is even whiter than me”… maybe I should now increase my bandwidth further for the next lot of complaints… step down Jade Goody).
Even more surprising, is that according to this article a lot of folks in the bipolar community aren't even bipolar. Apparently people with borderline personality disorder are often drawn into bipolar circles as they encounter many similar difficulties such as emotional volatility, impulsivity, depressions and mood swings.
What I’m trying to say (albeit very badly) is, that it was very naive of me to presume that just because someone has the same disorder as me that they will share the same personal characteristics. It’s as daft as me thinking that every other guy who takes a size 16” shirt collar will play the guitar. People with bipolar are just that. Bipolar. All different people, just like people with diabetes are all different. Why shouldn’t they be? So if you’re new to bipolar stuff and think that I am some kind of a template, think again. I’m not, and neither are any of the other bipolar bloggers. We all have different character traits and we all have different experiences of this rollercoaster illness.
However… ahem… I may have overlooked a discrepancy regarding the artistic stuff… I write songs, Marlena does her cartoons, Cie has just written a book, Bryan draws, PJ plays guitar… I’m gonna stop there.
According to a recent post by PJ, there’s also the annoying fact that many of us are Pisces.
But there’s no way I’m gonna backtrack and edit/destroy this post. It’s the longest I’ve ever written.
Hmmm… sleeping too little, writing too much… I seem to remember that was supposed to be some kind of warning for me. Och, never mind, no time for that now, I’ve got to get back to inventing my perpetual motion machine and saving the human race.