Mardi Gras and all that supports it is fascinating. It’s a big subject in my memoir and here it is again – 2020 Mardi Gras! However, one of my motivations in writing is to share my episodes with bipolar and the tension I experienced with mental illness and carnival customs. My first chapter opens with me six months into a mental hospital stay and perplexed by a telephone announcement that I would be taking part in the debutante season the next fall.
My mental illness took my family by surprise, certainly it did for me. Let me explain.
In an odd sort of way, one of my book’s themes, standing on my own two feet, was initiated unexpectedly. The summer I was 19, I took it upon myself, with the best intentions, to stop taking Dexedrine and thyroid pills prescribed by my pediatrician. It was an assertive step to taking charge of my own life after taking these pills since I was ten. Boom, mental illness followed – cold turkey withdrawal and a psychotic episode. I went off my meds not thinking to tell anyone, just something I was doing for myself. What next?
I write about my episodes and my life in the book – it’s not all just about Mardi Gras, but against the background of a Mardi Gras culture. I invite readers to read this and to share their own experiences. Great thanks to BP Magazine which focuses on people with bipolar disorders, and to NAMI – the National Association for Mental Illness – which supports people with mental challenges.
There was no mention of a manic depressive diagnosis when I was 19, and it was before Lithium was readily available as a remedy, but at least one psychiatrist later stated that this acute psychotic withdrawal may have set me up for a bipolar episode twenty years later.