Category: Motivation


Art from adversity: A life with bipolar

My book is finished. It will be published next year in April/May.

Art from adversity: A life with bipolar is an illuminating, uplifting and entertaining memoir about adversity, mental illness, bipolar disorder, Down syndrome, creativity and art. It is divided into two parts: the first a collection of personal stories and the second interesting and useful information about bipolar disorder, and informal advice for carers.

 “This book is written with great courage and amazing creativity, and by telling her stories Anne is leading us out of the shadows towards a stigma free word where mental ill health will be as well understood, accepted, funded and overcome in the same way as physical illnesses like cancer and diabetes.  Australia is showing the way in this international challenge and the courage of individual stories like Anne’s if told enough and listened to enough will change the world.”

Professor Patrick D. McGorry AO, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRANZCP
Australian of the Year 2010

“This is an inspiring book in which Anne has drawn on her own experiences to educate and inform others suffering from bipolar disorder. Her use of narrative, paintings and poetry is engaging and illuminating. It is an excellent addition to the literature on bipolar illness and a brilliant read.”

Professor Gin S Malhi MB ChB BSc(Hons) MD FRCPsych FRANZCP
CADE Clinic, The University of Sydney

For more information about the book, watch this space …


The movie ‘Mental’

I went to see the movie ‘Mental’ this afternoon and, just like the movie ‘Black Balloon’ that also starred Toni Collette, it was the story of my life, down to the smallest detail, from the opening shot to the final scene. Well, not all of it, but a lot.

I couldn’t help but think that someone has been watching me and then writing about my life. There was so much in the film that resonated with me – the experience of being ‘on holiday in Wollongong’, the children’s problems, the buying of multiple, expensive household items. Crying out of control in a coffee shop.

When I saw Rebecca Gibney in the backyard singing Edelweiss I thought of Monday nights. Every Monday night my friend Trish and I take our young adult sons (who have Down syndrome) to Special Olympics swimming together. Her son is a music buff (there isn’t a song he doesn’t know the words to) and he usually brings the soundtrack to ‘The Sound of Music’ for us to play in the car on the way and on the way home. The four of us sing Edelweiss at the top of our voices and Trish and I sigh about how gorgeous Christopher Plummer was.

By the time we arrive at swimming we all feel just like Rebecca Gibney’s character does in the movie ‘Mental’. Enjoying the moment, not caring what anyone else thinks. Laughing and feeling good. What’s mental about that?


Espen Fadness

Today there were 4 hits on the post called My name is Espen Fadness. That makes a total of 58 hits on that post. Amazing.

I have to admit, the youtube clip is awesome. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and check it out.


What recovery means to me

Everyone who has a mental illness experiences their illness differently, and what recovery means to each person is unique too. However, there are some things we have in common and there are things we can learn from each other. Recovery from mental illness, for me does not mean cure it means management. It is not something I can resolve once and for all, and then put it behind me, rather it is an ongoing process. It means being mostly stable, recognizing and managing symptoms and being able to do the things I want and need to do most of the time.

To get to this place called ‘recovery’, I had to first get the correct diagnosis and then accept that I did (do), indeed, have a mental illness. I had to find a psychiatrist, see them regularly, follow their advice and take the prescribed medication. I had to out find out as much as I could about my illness, so I read books and accessed a wealth of information, through organizations such as The Black Dog Institute and SANE. I attended wellness programs and went to talks, lectures and seminars. I went to a support group where I talked to and learned from others in similar situation. I nurtured my family and friends. I learned how to channel my mental illness into positive pursuits such as writing, drawing and painting. And when I felt better, I wanted to give something back to the community.

The one thing I do know about recovery is that it takes as long as it takes.


Bipolar disorder – the good news

The good news

The good news is that bipolar disorder is eminently treatable. Individuals, families and friends can do a lot to make sure that the light at the end of the tunnel is bright sunshine and not the headlights of an oncoming train. The chances of a train wreck increase significantly when you do nothing about it, and just stand frozen in place.

There are many ‘good news’ stories about bipolar disorder, including mine. Many of us are living with bipolar disorder and other forms of mental illness and coping very well. You just don’t know who we are. We could be your child’s teacher, your GP, your lawyer, your electrician, your mechanic or your newsagent. We could be anyone. Most people in the community who live well with bipolar don’t advertise the fact. We just get on with our lives.

Given community perceptions, you could be forgiven for thinking that everything to do with mental illness and bipolar disorder is morbid and sad, but in actual fact it’s not. Having bipolar disorder can enhance motivation, increase productivity and lead to innovation in all areas of life. It can, and does, stimulate imagination and creativity in many people both in contemporary society and in history.

Bipolar disorder can teach us a lot about life, and about ourselves. It has taught me that simply getting by in this crazy life is something worth aspiring to. That being able to manage the minutiae of life, maintaining relationships and earning a living is major accomplishment.

Because of bipolar, I understand that most people are ordinary, and that being ordinary is a good thing. Because of bipolar I know that true happiness can be nothing more than being absorbed in something, be it work, a good book, a hobby or spending time with friends Because of bipolar, I understand that having a job and being able to work is a privilege.

Because of bipolar, I have realised that, if we’re lucky in life, we will have a small number of people who truly care about us, a few well-timed opportunities, a little bit of luck, some breath-taking moments of wonder and joy and lots and lots of challenges.

Because of bipolar, I know I am very lucky.

Because of bipolar I have discovered who I am. I am an individual, an ordinary person, and that’s all I want to be. At the end of the day, I am simply, just me.


Something for the soul

When I was young I took piano lessons for two years. One of the pieces I attempted to learn was Beethovan’s Piano Sonate Pathetique.

In this video clip Daniel Barenboim is the pianist. There are no words to describe the way he plays these two movements.

If only I had practised more.