I am not new to being the odd one out and living a strange life.
I have decided to document my bipolar life as I attempt to find a pathway to some kind of normality and joy.
This is an honest post and any mention of people and events are not intended to put anyone in a bad light, but rather to document my journey.
Here is the start of my strangeness ;-
I was born six weeks premature, my mother had pre-eclampsia and my birth needed to be sped up in order to save both our lives.
I was a tiny baby and spent some time in an incubator with no human touch or interaction. My mother believes that this was the primary contributor to my mental problems.
Unfortunately my birth date was the 26th of December and consequently most people forget this day due to post-Christmas exhaustion or post-Christmas depression.
I suffered, really suffered, from extreme separation anxiety. I doubted whether my parents loved me. When I wasn’t with them I believed that they would leave me. I was worried and anxious every minute of every day.
When I went to school I was the youngest in my class. Intellectually I was way ahead of my classmates but emotionally I was light years behind. This coupled with my separation anxiety spelled emotional disaster.
I had several extreme meltdowns in my first year at school because I experienced sensory overload. I couldn’t deal with loud noises, sudden movements or anything extreme. Every time I was faced with something that caused a sensory overload I would run away, hide and cry. This happened during lessons too and was completely out of my control. I became the butt of many jokes and was continually teased because I was a ‘stupid baby’.
- On several occasions my parents were summoned to school to discuss my emotional problems. However, neither my parents nor my teachers knew how to fix me.
On top of that both my father and then brother contracted scarlet fever which was considered an extremely dangerous disease. I spent six weeks away from school to ensure that no one at school was infected by this scourge. This did irreparable damage to my social standing and self-image.
My mother taught me to read when I was two years old. She used flash cards and I would memorise the words. ( I was too young to spell them out). When I started school I was a fluent reader and could read almost anything. This did not help me, it singled me. My teachers would give me advanced books to read and this made an even greater spectacle of me.
However on a good note I discovered my voice and landed a leading role in the junior primary production. I later realised that my teachers selected me for this role in an attempt to boost my confidence and redeem my reputation.
I must mention at this point that my dad decided to stop working and pursue full-time study to become a man of the cloth. We went from money to no money.
This distressed my mother and I felt that it was my responsibility to keep her happy. I took this very seriously and whenever my emotions were out of control I believed I had let her down. I felt ashamed and worthless. Emotions were my downfall especially because I couldn’t control them.
Just before this time my brother was born. I adored him. I still do. At age one he fell very ill and his doctors didn’t think that he would make it. He did, he survived but that added another layer of responsibility to my already laden 5-year-old shoulders. I felt that it was my duty to protect him and keep him safe from any harm. I still do.
Then, just before the musical production my parents decided to move from Pretoria to Johannesburg as they had been offered free accommodation. I lost my role and I was devastated.
In the second last month of the year I started at a new school. This brought on such trauma that one week into attending my new school I became very ill. I wasn’t able to return to school for the remainder of the year.
It was quite a year, but looking back, if I hadn’t experienced such extreme emotions I probably would have coped far better with the situation.
This was the beginning phase of my mental issues. I think my parents registered this, but because of the stigma attached to psychological disorders they chose to do nothing about it.