My daughter Ashley, an engaging, highly intelligent, beautiful and artistically talented teenager, suffers from a life threatening genetic illness. It is an illness of extremes with a high, some estimates are as much as 20%, mortality rate. It is sometimes, as with my daughter, difficult to treat. It is always difficult for those so afflicted and their families. The contemporary nomenclature for this disease is Bi-Polar Disorder (1). But I prefer the more descriptive, no longer politically correct name, Manic Depression.
Most of us understand the dangers inherent in depression and its associated high risk of suicide. Over the last three years my daughter has employed some of the most common methods. She has cut her forearms twice, fifteen and twenty stitches respectively. And one evening she swallowed a week's worth of her prescribed medications (over one hundred pills) leaving her mother to find her, the next morning, much to her surprise and disappointment alive, and covered in vomit and excrement. But what is not as commonly known is that as precarious as depression can be the manic phase is equally as perilous.
Mania (1) consists of racing thoughts, grandiose delusions and marked lack of judgement. Unlike in the depressive phase it is hard to envision or anticipate the life threatening behaviors in which those so afflicted might engage. My daughter has many times; as is so typical in a manic phase, lost all sense of danger and for example attempted to walk alone at night for miles along a highway. It is also very common in this phase for manic-depressives, as has my daughter, to turn to street drugs (2).
But most of my daughter's experiences with street...
... middle of paper ...
...14)MetalHealth.com - Drugs
16)MetalHealth.com - Drugs
17)Depression - Family Links
19)Suicide & Depression Bookstore
22)U of P News Release
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