I have written much about my alcoholic illness, but I have never written much about my manic depressive disorder except to say I have the illness. Even though painful as it may be I am going to make an effort to talk some about this condition that few understand.
The Monday after Thanksgiving 2005, I was in my son’s home and I closed out his web browser and nothing but a picture appeared on the screen. He was at work so I spent the day loafing. I picked up a book of Edgar Allen Poe’s writing. I turned to one of my favorites of his, “The Tell-Tale Heart”. I remember the first time I heard this read to me when I was in the 11th grade. Somehow I knew he was telling more than just an ordinary horror story. As I read this short story all of a sudden I realized Poe was using his pen in his grand style to describe the symptoms of the manic side of manic depression.He was telling many of the symptoms that I have suffered in an entertaining manner. It is well know he suffered from the same disease as I. Please read the story before going further, if you are not familiar.
From my view he put in three metaphors that describes the symptoms that I went through. First was the insistence his character went through to convince others he was not mad. This prevails until the end. I have been through this so many times it would be very redundant to go on and on, but the one most remembered was 7th-10th of October 1985 while at my sister and brother-in-law’s house. I insisted I was not ill until I was left alone and the law was involved before I was taken to the hospital and strapped to a bed and injected with antipsychotic drugs. This is part of my life I will not soon forget.
The second put in such a way that I would think it as anything but entertainment, to most it is. The cunning manner his character was to rid the evil in his life. His thinking he was so clever doing this deed nobody could accuse him of being crazy or mad. As I write this piece, I think of the way I kept telling my family I was okay and I knew how rid myself of my illness without taking any meds. Poe provides much entertainment with this venture. It also shows his genius as a writer.
The third and last metaphor of his character actor was the panic attack. The thunderous heartbeats that cause so much pain that acting can no longer be tolerated. Then he must admit his attempts to rid himself of evil was evil. Also he no longer can deny his madness. Sitting along side the road with a suitcase, dress in a bloody white turtleneck shirt trying to convince a deputy sheriff I was okay does not seem to much different form Poe’s story. Later in the “Happy House” in so much pain, I was pulling out my hair just get some form of relief. A few minutes later I was strapped to a bed and left there for a period of time. Time seems eternal. This was Hell as I know it. I do remember being in a state where every nerve in my body in pain. Pain that could not be defined or comforted while my arms and legs where strapped down. Suicide would have been relief. Some time later I was injected with some drug that put me out. Poe had his character pain coming from a symptom schizophrenia, also same as some symptoms as manic depressive disorder.
I can assure you I had many episodes of panic attacks over the years, not any close to the one described above. They a not fun to watch or endure. Poe had the genius with the pen to make the event entertaining and justified.