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Submitted Literature

Bi Polar Expedition

By Neil Walton



Much has been written about the various forms of mental illnesses, and to a degree the authors have all been psychiatrists, which is great if you’re training to a doctor.  But, is this of any use to a person who has just been diagnosed or their family? 


A month after my fourth break-down I met with an occupational therapist and the meeting changed the course of my stubborn illness over night.  I quietly mentioned to her that I was considering writing a book about the experiences I’d faced with my disorder, fully expecting her to burst out laughing.  She read the notes that I had given her, but didn’t even pause before saying, “Let’s get you published first.”


Hilary referred me to a day-unit where a user-run editorial team was based, and on my first nervous day there, I asked the facilitator what she thought about my plans for a book.  Again I waited for a bout of hysterics, followed by a ‘there there’ pat on the head from the freelance journalist.  Instead she said, “That’s a great idea, have you brought any of your work in with you?”  Well slap my thighs with a four pound trout!  That was the first time I had heard my ‘scribblings’ described as work.  That was May, 1999 and I haven’t put the pen down since or been re-admitted to hospital.   


Bi Polar Expedition is an autobiographical account of the 12 years I spent coping with, and suffering from clinical and manic depression.  I’ve survived five break-downs in all, and countless high episodes.  I have also been sectioned four times, admitted to three different hospitals, arrested twice, and endured a severe beating, by 11 men, when I strayed on to RAF Northolt’s aerodrome, a landing strip used by the Queen.  I was only glad I was having a high episode, and wasn’t a terrorist!  The whole experience left me bankrupt, and the above is just the first five chapters.  


After being published I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I had no preconceptions of instant fame or wealth, but after three months when, seemingly nothing happened, I began to think that I’d wasted four years of my life, and my grassroots story was insignificant and it would sink without trace.       


Then, one afternoon, my eldest son phoned to say that he’d passed a copy of my book on to two of his friends who are psychologists.  A month later they returned from India, and I discovered that they had taken Bi Polar Expedition with them and used it as a training manual.  I never thought that a book I had written, in a back bedroom in Tottenham, would make it that far around the globe.


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Key Themes:

  • Bipolar Affective Disorder

Reference: Neil, Walton. 2007. Bi Polar Expedition. Chipmunka, 2007


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Thursday 14th April 2011