The Seeds of Manic Depression

I was a cute kid. I have the pictures to prove it. My parents’ first child, with my dad’s parents living across the street and Mom’s mother in the next town, I got lots of attention. Mom was a singer, so there was always classical music in the house on the radio, or sometimes Broadway shows on the record player. I was bright, too – how many kids know the second verse of “Deck the Halls” at age 2 ½? I did, and I have proof of that, too.

But I was also born with the seeds of manic depression. Always wanting to be in the spotlight, I was, under that bubbly exterior, horrifically sensitive to being laughed at or otherwise humiliated – something that would worsen severely as the years went by.

The seeds started to germinate early. When I was small, my mother told me, I cried watching I Love Lucy. When she asked me why, I said it was because people were laughing at her. I had no concept of comedy, no understanding that Lucille Ball was behaving like an idiot to make people laugh. I suppose that conceptual lack is normal in small children, but I have to think it’s unusual for a child of five to cry because she thinks a woman on television is being humiliated.

After Kindergarten it started to get much worse. I clearly remember two incidents in first grade. One came just at the very beginning of the school year. The teacher wrote a two-letter word on a blackboard and asked if anyone knew what it said. I shot my hand up! I’d learned that word from light switches – it was “on.”

But the teacher said no. It wasn’t “on,” it was “oh.”

It speaks volumes that I still remember, decades later, how mortified I was at that moment. I was wrong, and everybody knew it.

The other incident happened the day our class pictures came in. We were all sitting on the floor in the same place we’d been when I exposed my interest, while the teacher held up each person’s picture in front of the class. Freddie’s eyes were closed in his picture, and everyone laughed, including me. Yet I sat there knowing I couldn’t stand it if they laughed at my picture. Praying they wouldn’t laugh.

When my picture came up, the class giggled. And I got up and ran out of the classroom, into the cloakroom where we were sent if we were bad, and sat down in the back, in the dark. I knew I’d been bad for running out, you see, so I went to the punishment place.

My social skills were off to a bad start. So was my psyche.

(By the way, the picture wasn’t funny or odd. I have no idea why the class laughed. If I can find it, I’ll add it.)

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14 thoughts on “The Seeds of Manic Depression

  1. The horror. Omg I so remember the horror. I still live in fear of being laughed at so it all stays in my head and shadows my soul. No one really knows me. And I mean no one. The risk is too great and the consequences too devastating. The only good thing about bipolar is THE HIGH! I LOVE the high! To finally feel good and SO good! For SO long! Bring it. I can cure cancer and feed all the hungry people in the WORLD and shelter ALL the homeless! Aaahhh I can do such great things! And knowing it will come crashing down (and it will) makes the high so desperate. School was a nightmare. Childhood was a nightmare. Being seen and treated like a freak is a nightmare. Screw you Bipolar. I’m going to go make a cake. Thanks for sharing

  2. Marcia, I have read your ‘Guide to Bipolar Disorder’ for years and this is the first time I have checked out your Blog. Thanks so much for always providing such timely information and now I see; also sharing from a more personal perspective.

    I must say there have been times when your newsletter has been just this side of a saving grace for me and has keep me on the right side of the rail of bridges and so much more.

    Thanks so much for yor continuation and diligence!


  3. Hi Marcia,

    I’m enjoying your blog as well as your articles on! I remember being a sensitive child since early childhood, although I didn’t seem to experience the degree of hurt you did when kids laughed at me–but I do recall being–and being called–overly sensitive under similar circumstances. I only found out last year that I’m bipolar; I’m 49. Even though I only found out last year about my mental illness, I can look back over my lifetime and see how my life has been affected by what I [now] know to be an inherited (to a large degree) condition, as my mother, who committed suicide when I was 8, had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia back in the late 1960’s. I do suspect the hysterectomy she underwent, without hormone replacement therapy didn’t help either! In any case, over the past few years [in 2008 I was originally diagnosed as “significant ADHD”], I have become fascinated with brain science. I recommend one article and one book to you: 1) [article] “The Insanity Virus” found here:
    And 2) The Brain That Changes Itself by Dr. Norman Doidge. Both are MUST reads.

    Again, I greatly appreciate your informative writings. Take care.

  4. Hey Marcia, Was your “Top 5 gifts for Manic-Depressives” supposed to be some kind of a sick joke? I have suffered the impact of severe depression, social anxiety and ADD (yes, zombie meds., meds that stopped my ability to urinate until I was hospitalized and catheterized, numerous series of electro-convulsive therapy or ‘Shock treatments’, huge gaps in my memory due to those treatments, suicide hotline calls) should I go on? Yes, I’ve done this for 27 years. I find nothing funny about it at all. I’ve made friends with people far worse off than me and I would undergo about 5 more shock treatments before I would present them with one of these gifts.

  5. I would like to read that list of “gifts,” too. It’s always SO frustrating when people either make light of mental illness or exhibit their ignorance on the matter with thoughtless comments that could–if they would but stop and THINK–easily be understood as potentially harmful. Our society is just barely beginning to understand SOME of the common mental illness(es) that so many suffer from; the stigmas that are typically attached are, unfortunately, difficult to expunge from peoples’ minds. A musical lyric comes to my mind here: “Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. Ignorance and prejudice, and fear walk hand in hand.” [author: Neil Peart].

  6. I found this medical study on atypical antipsychotics on the internet.
    “The HSP co-inducer BGP-15 can prevent the metabolic side effects of the atypical antipsychotics” Literati – Nagy Z. Cell Stress Chaperones: 2012 July 17 (4) 517-21.

    Quote: “Olanzapine caused rapid insulin resistance in healthy volunteers and was associated with decreased level of HSP72 in peripheral mononuclear blood cells. Both changes were restored by administration of BGP-15. In Wistar rats, weight gain and insulin resistance induced by clozapine increased intracellular fat accumulation and BGP-15 inhibited this process. Taken together, our results indicate that BGP-15 inhibits multiple metabolic side effects of atypical antipsychotics and this effect is likely to be related to its HSP co -inducing ability.”
    end quote.
    Heat shock proteins and their diminishment in peripheral mononuclear cells is a potential lever for eradicating side effects of the AAP’s. Replenishment and re establishment of the HSP’s also eliminate some major side effects of the AAPs. Brain shrinkage as an AAP side effect was not addressed in the article. And whether the therapeutic efficacy of AAP’s are diminished also with AAP side effect eradication by BGP-15, —this issue too was not addressed. But the fuutre holds more information on this discovery from Hungary on BGP-15’s favorable therapeutic benefits on AAP side effect eradication.

  7. I have just read this article “Get Over It!”

    It says “The moral of the story? There are some bosses who simply will not recognize an emotional problem or a mental illness, even when it is staring them right in the face.”

    Wrong, the moral is surely twofold. Firstly, Councillors who suggest medication should be shot, or simply struck off for their own incompetence.

    Secondly and most importantly, someone should have strongly told you to GET OVER IT! when you ran out of the classroom, all those years ago.

    Plus stop bothering Doctors, who have enough work to do with real patients!

    Taking drugs for manic depression is a ridiculous idea….though it is the easy option. Counselling, by someone good at their job, is one way to go. The other way is to have a good mate/friend to chat to over a coffee!

  8. I read an article I believe you wrote- How To Recognize a Manic or Hypomanic Episode on I was deeply offended by the way you characterized some of the symptoms you listed. You make bipolar people sound like a bunch of morons. Washing cars, religious zeal, and the one that really got me was flamboyant clothing. I admit, some the symptoms were valid. I have been bipolar1 for 40 years. Although life has been difficult at times (many times), I was able to mitigate my illness and have a very successful life. MANY of us do. The fact is most manic behavior occurs during a depression. We can be belligerent, and hostile, stay up all night, spend too much money, and yes even become hypersexual. However, I’m sure that those people compulsively dialing 900 numbers, spending hours on porn sites and wearing big hats and boas have problems other than bipolar. As far as compulsively washing my car all the time? I pay people to do that. Please, we have enough struggles, don’t characterize us as jackasses besides. Thank you for allowing me to share.

  9. I have been diagnosed for over 30 years , I am medicated, yes I hate it. But I hate the alternative. I am rapid bi polar, the people I live m. with forget. I try so hard to act “normal” if there is a normal. I am so exact about everything I say during a period of off balance. There is no room for error. I want for so little,, I really do think that is what damages a relationship so quickly. I can live on my own and hurt not a soul. I am not demanding but in great demand of sex, not fast sex but sex that is romantic, I also spend money, during this time, I am also very very lonely . This is the little bit of the life of me , oh and I cannot share it, my partner was going to go to classes to help but he ignored them and let them pass by. His daughter passed away and I am so so sad. That is why I have not been writing, I am back and glad u have this outlet for me,

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