By Kim Evans
Key Themes: mania, manic-depression, bi-polar, spiritual revelation, philosophy
These memories of mania are a first hand account of Kim’s experiences of mental illness. But as well as it being a time of mental illness, it was also a time of great spiritual revelation for Kim. During his mania he often felt guided by a higher power. Those encounters with a warm, benevolent and entertaining God have shaped Kim’s outlook on life and spirituality is still an extremely important part of his life.
Kim’s journey took him away from medicine to maths, which had always been his best subject at school. The abstractions of pure mathematics at university offered Kim exactly the sort of language he needed in order to attempt to articulate the wildly energetic and emotive thoughts that he experienced during his manic episodes.
One of the challenges Kim had to face during the seven years of his repeated hospitalisations was to accept his condition as an illness. He found the highs of manic depression extremely alluring. Kim experienced a profound sense of connection to the universe and to God when he was high and it was difficult for him to label these experiences as problematic.
For a long time Kim’s obsession with the idea that he was Jesus refused to go away. Some strange coincidences in his life fuelled this notion. Kim interpreted these signs as part of a huge and complex symbolic message from God confirming his special role in the Creation.
This is the story of a bright young man whose experience of university life was dominated by his desire to find out about the workings of his own consciousness. That journey took him into the murky waters of insanity but he survived the turbulent times and has used the insights he gained on the way to inform his own spirituality.
About the Author
Kim Evans had a very successful time at school. He played four musical instruments, did karate, played rugby for his school and sailed through his GCSEs and A-levels. At this stage there was nothing to indicate the chaos that would soon characterise his life.
It was at the end of his first year of medicine that Kim was first hospitalised. He was extremely euphoric, giving away money and talking of himself as the Second Coming. The next seven years or so were characterised by peculiar, unsettling mood swings, during which Kim experienced the upswings of manic depression on about 15 occasions.
My twenties were a fascinating and illuminating decade for me. It was a time of tremendous spiritual growth and change. But as the title of this book suggests, this transformation was set against a backdrop of mental illness. The mania I refer to is the upswing of manic depression (or bipolar disorder); a euphoric and extremely energetic state in which people often report intense feelings of connectedness to everything around them in the universe. In my case, I also experienced delusions of grandeur and an inability to communicate effectively with my friends and other people around me. However, my overall feeling about my experiences, despite their disruptiveness to my life in general, is that the net result is extremely positive. I feel enriched by my life journey; I have had many fascinating encounters and experiences during my manic episodes and feel very strongly that my mental illness has added colour and vividness to my memories.
In my first draft of my memories of mania I attempted to begin the story with my first visit to psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh in June 1995. While this was the first definitive proof that something was amiss, starting the story here left a lot of questions unanswered and it meant that the story was only really accessible to people who already knew me. In order to explain what lay behind my being admitted to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital it is necessary that I push the start of the story back a bit further.
I had deliberately selected a set of A-level subjects that opened as many doors as possible. (I studied maths, further maths, physics, and chemistry, French and general studies.) It is not at all obvious what the next step is for someone who obtains six as in such a set of subjects - there are a phenomenal number of options available. During my sixth form I had been to an open day at Queens’ College, Cambridge and fell in love with the magical, mystique of that ancient university. Maths was the subject at which I most excelled and I was offered a place at Queens’ College to study mathematics.
However, during a gap year in India before starting at university I had begun to feel that studying only maths was too limiting; after revelling in the diversity of my A-level years I was loath to confine myself to just one subject. Genetics seemed broader – I read and loved Richard Dawkins’ book ‘The Selfish Gene’ during my time in Calcutta - and the natural science tripos (the Cambridge word for course) appeared to offer plenty of interesting choices. When I got back from India I asked Cambridge about the possibility of changing from maths to natural sciences and after another interview my request was granted.
In the summer holiday of 1993, immediately before I started the natural science degree at Queens’, I was working on a mobile playscheme in Staffordshire, the county I grew up in. Six of us were employed in two teams of three. Each team had a van of sports and games equipment. Each weekday, each team went out to a different village hall in the county, where we set up for the day and entertained groups of youngsters with various activities. It was a great job - the children were energetic and fun to be with and I got on extremely well with my fellow team members.
I went out with the female member of my team for most of the summer. I was living with my parents at the time, paying no rent, and I was earning about £150 a week which was by far the most I had ever earned. I had access to one of my parents' cars (a battered old two-tone brown Toyota Starlet) and I felt extraordinarily free. The hours were good, the work was enjoyable and we loved spending time with each other. It ended up being a summer of mad socialising; it was the only period of my life during which I regularly went to nightclubs. It was not uncommon for the two of us to go to bed around 3am and wake up at 7am to start work at 8am.
The relationship is special sexually; I had sex for the first time on my 19th birthday in August of that year. We'd been out to see ‘South Pacific’ in Derby as a birthday treat and we ended the night by sleeping together for the first time. What romance!
This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 26 June, 2008.