It was time for my Saturday morning writing club session, and that day’s exercise assigned by the group mentor was to listen to our minds, find the biggest question facing us now, then write whatever needed to be let out. As meditative music played in the background, I peered inside, I looked and I listened. But nothing coherent came. All I saw and heard was despair and anger and guilt at the situation into which my bipolar hypomania had yet again swept me. Even worse, this time I had dragged along my husband, with his fragile health and his sensitivity to stress.

I’ve described with broad brushstrokes my experience of having bipolar disorder in another blog post, so I won’t repeat the details here.

This particular phase had all begun so simply, so innocently. Just some old friends needing help through a rough patch brought on by the economic carnage left by the covid pandemic, which continues to rage and to ravage lives. Then there was another rough patch, another need. Then another and another. Until my own particular brand of bipolar madness kicked in and I saw myself as having the superpowers needed to save this family from their misery. It took a while before the inevitable crash came, but this time the crash was bigger than ever before. My gilded superpower tongue had persuaded my husband to join in the rescue effort. In a matter of a few months, all my husband’s and my ready cash, all our credit facilities and a not insignificant chunk of retirement savings had disappeared into this black hole of need. Even worse, my superpowers had led me to sign an onerous lease agreement on the family’s behalf, at short notice. Now, of course – what else? – the lease had had to be terminated prematurely and the incumbent damages, with all their legal and financial implications, were laid at my feet. It was all my fault. I should have seen the oncoming train-smash and stopped short of it. But I didn’t. The sad fact is that I couldn’t.

All these thoughts ran through my mind as I stood staring at my image in the bedroom mirror, both me and my image holding a full month’s prescription of anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications in our hands. Me dead and my estate to cover the debts, the rental damages and the legal fees. It seemed like the perfect, the only solution.

If this causes you distress, please contact one of the following support organisations (in South Africa, 24/7):

  • Lifeline South Africa  0861 322322;
  • South African Anxiety and Depression Group (SADAG)  080 012 1314