The power of love in mental health

“Oliver Seligman on how his therapist’s approach helped him turn a corner; with Tone Fagerli’s response.”

This article by Oliver Seligman has been published in The Psychologist. It begins:

“Most people have no desire to be an inpatient in a mental hospital. Yet in November of 2014, I was so broken down by years of depression, mania, and psychosis that a bed in a quiet ward was all I longed for.

My relationship with bipolar began in 1993 when I was in my final year of school. In the weeks before my A-level exams, a blissfully euphoric mania slithered into my mind before morphing into a paranoia that tried to destroy me. It all came to a head at a police station in the South of England and only ended after two months as an inpatient at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

A year later, I was prescribed lithium, a mood stabiliser that I took every day for nearly two decades. Initially, lithium worked well. The chalky-white pills strengthened my fragile brain, expelling the extreme highs and lows from my mind, along with the anxiety which had haunted me throughout my teenage years. I felt strong, my confidence returned, and I was able to re-join life again. However, it wasn’t only elation, depression and paranoia that dried up like a thirsty creek in the midday sun.

In fact, my entire emotional life ground to a halt. Love, melancholy, sadness, jealousy, satisfaction, tenderness, worry, and contentment all but disappeared from my life. I felt numb. I had been an artist and a writer and loved to act. Yet as soon as a high dose of lithium was coursing through my veins, my interest in, and ability to perform, vanished. Headaches and exhausted days in bed became the norm, I was confused by simple tasks (such as trying to find my way home), and I began to hallucinate ..”

You can read more from here.

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