Why Bipolar?


We live in a world filled with beauty, wonderment and equilibrium – but equally one that is filled with evil, suffering and injustice. People with emotional and mental health problems have endured profound ignorance and bigotry from society for centuries.Society is frightened by The Different, and it always has been. The Different have been persecuted for centuries – ethnic minorities, non-majority sexualities, people with disabilities…‘The Mad’.

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Extract from Why Bipolar?

Everybody feels the blues. Everybody experiences grief. Everybody cries. So what is bipolar depression really like? In my experience it has a pattern. It is a slow withdrawal from life. A loss of interest in the everydayness of things which progresses to full-scale isolation in one’s mind. You can be in the proverbial crowded room and still feel disconnected to everybody. There is a serious drain of energy, which no amount of sleep seems to redress. One’s inner thought patterns become flooded with negative messages. You feel a failure - no matter what you’ve achieved in life. These thoughts are overwhelming and constant. You lose all self-respect and your self-grooming goes awry too. Otherwise capable people are reduced to shadows of themselves and even minor tasks, like housework, can cause panic in a person. If you are of a spiritual bent, this state may bring terror of hell or feeling too sinful for God ever to forgive you. You battle isolation from stigma and ignorance. Suicidal depression kicks in. You feel useless and worthless. Depression is a response to stress and pressure. To survive, you must switch off and go to a place of refuge. All is bleak.

Back jacket cover of Why Bipolar?

Declan Henry has been an active social worker for over 20 years, dealing with people with a wide range of social and mental issues, including bipolar. What inspired him to write this book though was witnessing the intense suffering of a personal friend over many years of ‘treatment’ for bipolar.

In Why Bipolar? Henry pushes back against the catch-all mythology of a condition for which there is no scientific evidence. He reveals the convenient collusion between the psychiatric profession and big pharmaceutical companies as they claim to treat an ‘illness’ so poorly and vaguely defined that its list of symptoms is entirely self-contradictory, endorsing and prescribing the suffering of millions while they themselves grow rich and re-write not just history but the bounds of medicine in the process. Henry’s collection of 26 life-stories illuminates the world of the bipolar sufferer, and heartbreakingly show the cavalier treatment deemed acceptable for those with this diagnosis.

But Henry also offers hope to those with a bipolar diagnosis, claiming that by becoming better informed, both about the condition itself and the alternative treatments available, and by practicing self-management, the dream of living drug-free with bipolar is not only a possibility, but an inspiring reality.

“.... I have learned a lot from this well researched book, mainly not to automatically accept what I’m told by medical people who don’t bother to get to know me and my condition, to question their medications and above all, to take charge of my life and make it work as best I can...” Anne Hailes, Irish News journalist.

2 reviews for Why Bipolar?

  1. Samantha Jagroop

    Upon receiving this book I had already made assumptions about how it would be presented and written – I was totally absorbed and engrossed from page 1; it is written with the reader always in mind, but with balance to the facts and information. Not patronising or heavy-going, it is an encouraging read with a need to learn more.

    A comprehensive guide to the subject of bipolar written in a non-academic, ‘dry’ way by an author who has clearly done his research from all perspectives.

    The traditional medical viewpoint is covered as you would expect to see in a book such as this, but it is the individual cases, written in the first-person that has given me the greatest insight into an unknown world that I was only privy to via the media and celebrities that have ‘confessed’ on the front of magazines.

    Taking a holistic view of treatment for this medical disorder, was highly exciting to read about and the author has taken the opportunity to discuss the various options from Reiki to diet – often this is is not expected within a book such as this.

    The book is split into 3 readable parts, that are designed to allow the reader to dip in and out where necessary. Part one introduces us to bipolar and the history behind the term; Part two is by far my most enjoyable aspect of the book – the case histories; so much is learned from this section as it kept me reading onwards, comparing one persons story to the other, seeing it through their eyes. Part three was a handbook for living with the illness, bravely discussing suicide, often taboo within such publications. I was rewarded as I was given the holistic view point on various treatments and the importance of self care and diet.

    As a trainee counsellor it is imperative to my own knowledge and therefore practice, to try as best I can to understand my future clients needs and be tuned into listening to what is not always being said – I have managed now, through the readability of this book to see clues that before I had not been aware of, to discover that each individual will have bipolar diagnosed at different points in their lives, not necessarily due to previous history of mental illness and that, it can be a diagnosis as a result of trauma in their lives.

    Treatment doesn’t always mean medication by pills or through extreme intervention such as hospitalisation, there are alternatives that combined perhaps, give a support to the individual to lead a life within society whereby they can fulfil their own path and independence.

    I have experienced mental health challenges myself and identify with some aspects of the alternative treatments for prevention and self-care, this should be at the root of all consultation prior to writing out a prescription for each person has different responses and of course, their own situations to manage.

    As a child I am only now aware (though this book) that I had a parent that had the same symptoms, but was never really discussed – it was the norm for her to take to her bed for weeks on end, to then rise and in her manic state, decorate, cook and smile as the perfect mother. It took it’s toll on me personally as I took on the role of parent to my parent at the age of eleven. We lived in a world of literally darkness and silence so not to awaken the sadness that hung in the air. Years later I grew to understand more, but it was never spoken about. This book has lifted the mystery though the case studies and given me a chance to understand and lay that part of my life to rest.

    I would encourage this book as a must – read for anyone who is wanting to understand more about humanity in general. How we tick, why we do what we do…it isn’t just for those studying or working in the mental health sector. There is so much we should not assume about an individual and their pain, often disguised and as a result – shame and embarrassment – through the pages of this book I have understood, learned and healed and would recommend this book to be read in schools where health and social care is taught, it is enlightening, thought-provoking and comprehensive, written with humanity, insight and care.

  2. Helen Dunne

    This book exposes and informs people about the corruption and big business of the area of regular mental healthcare provision. It opens up and educates people about a system that is flawed and tremendously secretive as well as highlighting the fact that we’re still dealing with mental issues in a rigid antiquated manner. People in the ‘Life Stories’ section of the book courageously shared their stories. These are beautifully written and provide a welcome insight into the lives of people who were previously so marginalized and discriminated against. Thanks to the author, Declan Henry, this book should surely pave the way for a shift in thinking and hopefully make changes to the dreaded drugs culture that continues to be widely implemented instead of looking for answers beyond psychiatric medication.

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As a writer, I try to incorporate both sides of humanity into my writing, having learned that life is far from grim and that there is enough kindness, compassion, love and humour to overcome life’s obstacles, regardless of how much misery, abuse, or injustice exists.
Written by Declan Henry


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