My name is Grant Thorsson, I was born in 1977 in Poland. I never met my biological father; my mother married when I was 4, and my stepfather left us when I was 14.
I was the eldest son, and so had to take a lot of responsibilities. When other kids rebelled, got drunk and experimented with sex for the first time, I was co-responsible for raising my two brothers. As a result, when I finally could rebel a bit around the age of 21, I did. I got a lot of tattoos; I drank a lot; I smoked weed. And I had a pretty good time – I hated being a teenager, but my 20s were pretty awesome, until 2004, when three things happened at once: my grandmother died, my boyfriend left me and my best friend moved to another town. I despaired, and I despaired, and I despaired until half a year later I realised that I no longer feel sad because of those three things that happened; I just feel sad. I felt heavy, dark, I was filled with self-hatred; I thought my life was over, and decided to finish it. But just before doing so I had a thought: I never really believed in psychiatry but since I’m about to die anyway… why not give it a chance?
I was put on antidepressants which saved my life. Dark moods, self-hatred, sadness slowly lifted. I remained on the antidepressants for two years, after which time we slowly tapered them off. And I felt fine for five years, until in 2011 I suffered from what could have been either a burnout or plain ol’ depression returning. I was put on the same antidepressants, and once the right dosage has been reached, I got better. Much better. In fact, I felt awesome. I decided to start a business; I worked on music and writing; I got a job on the side as a bartender; I didn’t sleep much but I had lots of energy anyway; I worked out a lot; I found a new boyfriend. And all was going amazingly well until one day I woke up and I was depressed.
It was terrifying. Why would depression return now that everything is going so well? But the depression only lasted a few hours. Then I went back up. Then back down. Then back up. I cancelled appointments and didn’t make new ones, because I had no idea how I would feel in a few hours, much less in a few weeks. So finally I went to a psychiatrist and said: there’s something wrong with my antidepressant, should we change it perhaps? The psychiatrist asked me a lot of questions, and at the end said I will get the results in a week. A week later I was told I had bipolar II disorder.
I had no clue what bipolar was. I went online, and found a million websites filled with conflicting information. I read a lot of books, and some of them terrified me, some gave me hope, sometimes both within 10 pages. I changed doctors many times (in my hospital I was constantly being assigned new psychiatrists in practice, none of which lasted longer than a few months). My medication was raised, lowered, changed, antidepressant was removed, then returned, then slowly tapered down which strangely enough triggered a proper mania (and lead to my diagnosis being changed to bipolar I disorder).
Among all the books I read I couldn’t find one that would give me the answers to the questions I had when diagnosed. What to think about medication? Why are all the changes necessary? Why are people so scared of lithium? Will I need electroshock therapy? Will I spend my life going up and down every few hours? How am I supposed to work again? Will it ever get better? What even IS better? What do I want?
I wrote the book trying to compile answers to all the questions I had. I still have questions nowadays, but I know how to phrase them. I work with a great medical team, and together we have achieved that one big dream of a bipolar: stability. It is possible to become stable. This is just one of the answers I’ve got for you; the rest you will find in the book. Remember: I am not a medical professional. All the information in the book and in my blog comes strictly and solely from a patient’s point of view.
I am currently living in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, alongside my fantastic boyfriend who has seen me at my best and at my worst and never left my side. My current diagnosis, subject to change, is rapid cycling bipolar I disorder with borderline traits.