And so we come to the gist of the story. My father the writer and me, his daughter who is also a writer.

My father gives a unique, relevant and compelling voice to the invisible voice that prevails when it comes to the invisible thread of mood disorders. He has suffered from bipolar from his late teens. During his own personal life experience he has triumphed above all overwhelming odds that confronted and challenged him.

Everyone suffers from ’emotional baggage’ but there is more to it when it comes to bipolar or suffering from any other mental illness including a mood disorder.

My father has always taught me to dream big. Growing up I always knew that there was something special about him. He has suffered and lost, gained from personal blows to his ego and throughout his many life experiences his indomitable strength has always shone through. He was the perfect father, a saint. I worshiped him when I was growing up. I remember all the things that he taught me. He taught me how to love most of all and that the human heart is indecipherable though the keys to unlocking it are numerous.

He often came, and still does to this day, under fire for spreading the awareness of mental health in our community (he puts and pours his heart and soul into it). He deals with it on a daily basis as best he can.

There is a dual relationship between mania and depression when it comes to bipolar. They are inseparable. They are bound, bonded together like Siamese twins.

The mania gives rise to behavior that is reckless, wild, unpredictable, unforgiving; it makes you think that you are exceptional and despair, a slump in your mood and desperation comes with the depression. Depression is fast becoming the sickness of our time and of this generation. It has become a silent killer with indeterminable triggers and setbacks.

From my own personal life experience living and growing up with a father struggling with bipolar was far from easy. It taught me hard life lessons like that if you are suffering from a mental illness you can still be strong on the surface of things, keeping it together, functioning in a stressful workplace, a household filled with children creating chaos and mayhem in the kitchen but you can still feel empty and frustrated from the depression you are suffering from.

One thing I have learned is that there is hope even when you feel rejected, helpless and alone. When bipolar becomes such a struggle that it becomes difficult for you to function and survive there are people around you who can motivate you with positive words of encouragement when you need it the most from the people who care about you and love you for who you are. Not just as a nameless, faceless person but who see you as a human being that comes with all the flaws and imperfections of being human.

On some days when I was still a child and sometimes confused by my own father’s behavior it would feel as if I was looking into a cracked mirror; that was the place I called home. Although my father still made me feel safe when I was small and as long as he kept his demons at bay he kept my own far away from my own child’s mind.

There were the five of us caught in the middle of this raging storm at sea with no lifeline in sight sometimes, my mother, my sister, my brother, me and my father. There were days when the only link we had to each other was my father. The battle against the depression was an uphill struggle. Visits to the clinic where my father was hospitalised for his mania were regular occurrences when we were growing up. So were family counseling sessions. We all had to see and sit down face-to-face with a family psychologist every week while he was there but this very quickly became normal for us. In these sessions nothing was sacred or held back. Everything came under scrutiny that happened in our house but we never gave away much, all of us tending to be quiet and withdrawn. This was obviously learned behavior. We were taking our cue from our parents. As children we didn’t know how to recognise a helping hand that could soothe the situation we found ourselves in.

These times gave us false hope sometimes that perhaps this would be the last time; just maybe. But that wasn’t to be. The illness always came back with a vengeance. Even now I can see how my father’s daily suffering affected and impacted my siblings. As adults we all carry the deep emotional wounds and scarring coming from childhood. We internalized our father’s sadness, melancholy, depression, manic state of mind, the restless and frustrating mania that we and he had no control over and slowly we learned to accept it as our own.


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