[TRIGGER WARNING: Contains matters relating to suicide and suicidal ideation] In part three of an ongoing series George tells his story of his wife death and her struggle with bipolar disorder. You can read part one and part two if you have missed the start of his moving account. 

the highs and lows of mania

Anyone who has lived with a bipolar family member will be familiar with the ecstatic highs and crushing lows. It’s an illness I would not wish on my worst enemy. You are living with a partner who is both Jekyll and Hyde and who can switch personas in an instant. During an episode your loved one can say the cruellest things. Afterwards he or she will be full of remorse. Speaking to the Daily Mail for example in 2019 actress Anna Carteret said: “At my worst if I was on a high, I’d do anything - strip naked at a party, jump into a swimming pool with my clothes on, and get into car crashes because I was driving too fast.” But when on a low she added: “I would barely want to get out of bed. The courage to make a decision, even what to wear, was too much. It’s that thing of wanting to disappear from life. You just feel embarrassed and hopeless and as if you don’t contribute anything.”

The first episode of mental illness in Carolyn I can recall was in the mid 1990s. I was working a night shift for a national newspaper in Manchester when Carolyn phoned and said she intended to kill herself. I was shocked and distraught, as you might expect. I rushed home to find her asleep. 

In 2016 a close friend, Jamie Philp, who also livd with manic depression, completed suicide aged 48 at a Derbyshire beauty spot. He was an incredibly funny man, the life and soul of any gathering. We knew he had an illness. We knew he lived alone and sometimes spent days in his house without seeing or communicating with anyone. But no one could ever gauge just how intense was the pain he had to endure.

His joie de vivre and incessant comical banter when he finally emerged masked the true anxieties in his life. After his death his brother informed me that Jamie had twice before tried to complete suicide but failed.