Testimony: "The day I learned that I was bipolar"

An alternation of periods of great excitement and deep depression, interspersed with moments of stability. So goes the life of the bipolar patient, whose mood oscillates constantly between these two poles. Marie Alvery, author of "I chose the life, to be bipolar and to get out" to the editions Payot (*) gives us its testimony.

"Child, I had everything to be happy, but I was not, and in the evening, anxiety ensnared me: I tried to neutralize them with invasive rituals I was a little girl who cried at night, conscious that something was wrong and who was wondering how she could grow up in this way Paradoxically, the teenager rather appeased me and freed me from my anguish until I was 22. When I had just fallen in love, I I had my first manic crisis, not knowing it was one, I was in a state of absolute excitement, I cried and cried, I had lost all control of myself, I was in a lion's fury, I could not see the point of sleeping or eating anymore, completely taken aback by what was happening to me, I asked to be hospitalized, there I was stunned with drugs but no diagnosis was made. followed by months of severe depression I lived the next eight years in a n luring, putting my psychological doubts and discomforts under the rug. I got married, had a son and lost a baby to 7 months and a half of pregnancy. A year later, on the anniversary of the death of my baby, I again imploded in flight. Second manic crisis, second hospitalization, still no diagnosis. Then again a year later, as a dramatic rehearsal, a new relapse, particularly destructive: I entered a bar ladle to ask for fire, men made me drink and raped me. During my manic crises, I think myself all-powerful, I am uninhibited, I speak to everyone without restraint, unable to perceive the slightest danger or protect me.

This time and ten years after the beginning of my seizures, the diagnosis falls and gives me the effect of a bomb: manic-depressive psychosis. This was the name of the disease at the time. From the outset, these terms fall into the category of the mentally ill. I quickly understood that if I wanted to get out of this infernal circle, no longer having to see the field of ruins on which left me every maniac crisis, I should go through drugs for life. I have taken drugs, their side effects, the pounds they inflict on me and my brain that goes slower because I have a keen awareness of what I'm risking. It took another ten years and new crises to find the right treatment and stabilize. Thanks to a psychoanalysis, behavioral therapies and meditation, I wanted to give myself in addition to chemistry a maximum of chances to hold my illness in respect. And to do something of that formidable sensibility with which she has decked me out. I would have wanted a sweet and serene life. This evil that fell on me made my existence exalted, screaming and suffering. But also fighting, powerful and creative.

(*) With Hélène Gabert.

Christian Gay, psychiatrist and mood disorders specialist, co-author with Sylvie Beacco of " Better control my bipolar disorder with mindfulness Dunod ed.

"Vulnerability factors"

There is no single cause for this disorder but there are some vulnerabilities in most patients: emotional hyperresponsiveness, hypersensitivity, stress hyperresponsiveness, high anxiety level and family history of bipolarity. And then there are detonating events that can get a person into the disease or relapse: intense stress or overwork, a love story that exacerbates emotions, a traumatic event, drug abuse and alcohol or a disorganized lifestyle. Medication treatment with mood stabilizers is essential. But it is rarely enough and complementary approaches are welcome. Like psycho-education that teaches the patient to recognize the symptoms of relapse early. Where the behavioral and cognitive therapies (CBT) to help the patient not to judge himself, to show kindness to himself and to take care of him.

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