This article by John Kelly has been published by Mad in Ireland. It begins:
“You have bipolar disorder? No need to be so bloody sheepish about it!’ Insisted Mattias bullishly, on hearing why I had an appointment that required me to take time off from work that day in Tamano, the Joinery shop that I had only recently began working in as a senior apprentice.
‘That’s nothing to be ashamed of,’ my old carpentry boss continued, ‘sure it’s as common as having the bloody cold here in Sweden, sure Massa there has been a manic depressive for years now!’ Mattias gestured towards his business partner and fellow master craftsman. Massa gave an acknowledging smile in response, shrugging his shoulders with ease to confirm what has just been said. Mattias, rounded his point off by saying ‘and so did my father by the way. Truth be told, I’m probably a bit that way myself.’
This unexpected acceptance of my ‘condition’ from my new employers stayed with me as I travelled by foot, train and then foot again towards the psychiatric centre. I walked through the door and proceeded up to the counter to give the male receptionist my name, date of birth, address, Swedish social security card, Irish passport, prescription and accompanying letter from my consultant psychiatrist back in Dublin. Living in Stockholm three months now, my extended script had just run out.
Nerves kicked in as I handed over this information. It was the first time I would go anywhere other than the local mental health clinic back in Dublin to collect my prescription, since being diagnosed eight years previous. The receptionist took his time inputting my information onto the desktop computer between us. His typing rhythm interrupted only when reading through my prescription, ‘1200 mg of Lithium Carbonate per day?’ He asked. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Is everything OK? He just nodded and kept typing …”
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