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Bingo card marked up in purple with the words bipolar bingo, heredity, instability, abandonment, mania, addiciont, meds, abuse, mood swings, ptsd and anger

“It is said that bipolar is partly hereditary, and can be triggered by trauma, acute stress, physical and psychological abuse, and substance dependence. It often manifests in a person’s late teens to early twenties.

HEREDITARY: My mother’s side of the family is solidly Irish Catholic with a history of psychological issues and a bold streak of denial and shame. My father was adopted by his stepfather, who was coarse and abusive. I know nothing of his roots.

TRAUMA: When I was 17, my father passed away suddenly while my family was on vacation. I wasn’t there, and received the news over the phone. The last time we spoke, we had a spat and I cursed him as they drove away. Incoming phone calls now make me anxious.

PHYSICAL ABUSE: When I was 18, I learned that I had been raped when I was between the ages of 10–12. The abuser lived in our neighborhood and was never brought to justice for those crimes.

Stress: When I was 19, I was held at gunpoint as two young men robbed the restaurant where I worked. Moments later, the person who held the firearm less than 5 feet from my heart accidentally shot himself during the getaway. When the assailants were captured, it came to light they were people I knew – and other people I knew were also aware and said nothing.

PYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: When I was 16, I recognized early symptoms of mood swings and depression. My parents dismissed it. My older brother was already costing my family large sums in psychiatry and medication with zero effect. I love my parents, but they were both violent in their own ways. My father had a temper, and my mother was verbally domineering and occasionally slapped and hit me. I spent lots of time standing in the corner during dinner. My older brother was sometimes kind, but often cruel and bullying.

I would seek out safe spaces outside of home; exploring public spaces, wandering everywhere, spending extended time at friends’ houses. I would stare out the window and daydream, listening to music, drawing, reading, playing sports, cultivating fantasies. Anything to escape.”


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