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NeilMany books have been written on the subject of mental health issues, mostly by doctors but personal and in-depth accounts of illnesses such as clinical depression, hypo mania and bipolarity are rare. Obviously the right book, film or documentary hasn’t been written yet or we would’ve lost some of the stigma years ago. Bi Polar Expedition is an auto-biographical account spanning 12 years of my life suffering from and surviving clinical and manic depression.

The reasons for writing my book are simple, not only was it a cathartic experience but I’m now in a position to help and advise. Mention you’ve got a flu virus at work and there’ll still be people in the room with you two minutes later. Openly admit on your first day at a new firm that you have a mental health history and it’s amazing how many of the staff think there’s a fire-drill practise! Mental health sufferers don’t want sympathy all we want is to be understood and generally what the public doesn’t understand they either avoid or poke fun at. This isn’t so easy to do when a relative is sitting in their home unable to cope with the basics of life, such as feeding themselves and sadly this crushing, fluctuating illness can leave a patient bankrupt and destroy a family’s structure in a matter of months if you’re not armed with enough knowledge.

In brief I have survived: five break-downs, been sectioned four times, admitted to three hospitals, arrested twice and endured a severe beating by 11 men while handcuffed when I strayed onto an air strip used by the Queen during a bipolar high episode – and that’s just the first five chapters. It’s a story of survival against unimaginable odds and hope for anyone who’s been through a similar experience. What saddened me the most was that my disorder raped me of my passion for music for a time and then it had the audacity to attempt to delete my sense of humour as well – never again! Thanks to my illness I now know that my sense of humour is one of my finest qualities. Bi Polar Expedition will make you laugh and cry or at the very least leave you with a lump in your throat but more importantly it will explain the invisible pain behind mental illness.

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