By Tony Kelly
Key Themes: autobiography, manic depression, bi-polar disorder, empowerment
There is a song called ĎIn a Big Countryí by Scottish legends Big Country. Itís a song of hope and ambition. The first lines are ďCome up ScreamingĒ.
Stay Alive is the title I have given the book. Iím screaming now in the book for people who are distressed or despondent or have no voice. I had no voice for far too long and itís taken fifteen long years to say this. This is the length of time since I was first diagnosed with BI-Polar depression. I know how it feels to be elated, then depressed and back again. It is a disease that is not visible like a cast on a broken leg Ė you canít visibly see it but a broken limb heals; people like me must live with an ongoing process. Trying to synchronise your daily life with this can be harrowing.
Stay Alive is not or intended to be an explanation of Bi-Polar because there are many eminent authorities on the subject, much better at doing this than me. Rather, itís my personal account of how I perceive this beast and how others may see me. I try to encourage people to stay alive, even at their darkest hour. Hopefully this book might touch ONE person and this is my aim. I hope that you enjoy my journey to date.
About the Author
He was your average member of a Ďnuclear familyí Ė 2.2 children and brought up in a loving environment. Born in England to an Irish parenthood, he lived there until the age of 4. Moving back to Ireland was not really a problem to him because he was so young. His first impressions were living in his motherís home for a while, alongside the misunderstanding of his English accent.
Although quite intelligent, he was lazy in school and his attitudes until he found something that he was actually touched by. This didnít happen until year 3 of post-primary school and this quest was to result in his eventual breakdown and subsequent battles with alcohol and Bi-Polar depression. He wanted so much to be a teacher and when this was taken away he had many demons. That is until now. He now views it as positive, even through the pain and agony of failure. He is not so lazy anymore and is very happy amidst a lot of pain and malaise of the mind. He now looks forward.
I read a lot. Thatís when Iím able to. There are times that I canít because discipline is not my strong point. To physically sit down and make time is difficult enough but if you are preoccupied with something personally, itís near impossible. There are many times Iíve started something that is brilliant, left it and got pre-occupied, then that moment is gone. For some reason, even if itís months later, I usually get back to it, for something in my brain has reminded me that this person has something to give.
Thatís the beauty of a manuscript or a book. Itís physical shape and appearance doesnít matter, indeed on a basic level itís an inanimate object. It doesnít feel pain or care if you throw it on the coffee table for weeks. Whatís important is that some person in some time and their own era has exposed themselves on paper. Whether it be the remarkable discipline of Shakespeare or Milton, or your local friend, a book is a testament of itís own times and stands up in a way that nobody can say that itís right or wrong.
People say to me that the key to a good book that someone will stick with is its start. ďHit them with something that will grab their attention straight awayĒ I agree to a point and have admired many authorsí ability to Ďhití you at the start. Iíd love to know where they get that from Ė is there a phrasebook? If so I havenít read it! If I can make a comparison Ė I love live music and if a bandís play list is structured properly and some thought is put into it, then you go and experience a rollercoaster ride, a series of highpoints, low points and a finale. A good start is important but over a concert of two hours duration, you leave the venue the whole picture will emerge, if it was any good. Neil Young was a master at that. In interviewís he has referred to this time and time again. I will refer to that later.
Now I will start with the process that is the purpose of this project (see how Iíve gone on tangents already!). I was born in Nottingham, England in November of 1972. That makes me thirty five. My story is very similar to many people whose parents are from Ireland in the late sixties, early seventies. My father was from a very beautiful rural village called Keadue in Co. Roscommon and my mum was from Sligo town. I donít really know where or how they got together-it probably in some dance hall Ė I believe from stories that dad was somewhat a slick person and a very good dancer! Iíd say he had class. Any soul that knew him will understand what I mean by saying that he had a Ďuniqueí personality. I mean that affectionately. He saw what he wanted or needed and did what he had to do in order to survive. He had a wonderful personality and plenty of love to give. He very much lives on in my sister in so many ways. Sorry. Must pause. This stupid machine will not do what I want it to do. Iím on page three and it refuses to let me put words between words, there must be a setting somewhere.
Sorry. My mother, now she is completely different to how my father was. Thatís at the total heart of the book. If the readers can realise that two completely different people from two opposite types of childhood can meet up in some dance hall and in that moment meet and obviously fall in love, then spontaneity does happen at the weirdest of moments, usually when you least expect. Thatís why I said in the introduction if you are in some despair or crisis or even if youíre just looking for some meaning, please try to stay alive. I canít emphasise this too much.
This might sound like a very insensitive thing to say but Iíve experienced it and it has to be said. It is so easy to give up on life and be in a dangerous place. Life is a battle and struggle. I donít know of any person who does not struggle. For a lot just to feed yourself or buy a pack of smokes is near impossible. Others may have no end to their pockets and nice cars (God Iíd love a TT Audi!) I deliberately havenít mentioned mental distress or I hate to say Mental Illness. Labelsí are nasty things, no human is a label or has one attached to their heads. Nobody can see them and please donít put one on you. I digress again-sorry. This timeline thing Iíve set out on a piece of paper is not happening. I canít put things neatly into chapters. The filing cabinet in my brain wonít let me.
From pictures and whatís more rare pictures that Iíve seen in her early days, particularly her wedding album, my mother was a very beautiful woman. She still is. Sorry mum, I know youíre cringing but by the time you read this. I hope itís too late to change it. I can easily see why my dad chose her. But there is a much deeper beauty to my mum than meets the eye, even an aura about the way she lives. She is very special and I ill no doubt talk about that for something later up the track.
It must have been a gut-wrenching experience to leave a land that is so familiar and safe, not to mention the friends and family that you must leave behind. England is far from Mars and only across the channel but itís an unknown thing. Itís not a case then as is now to hop on a plane and fly for fifty minutes. Bang- you are there. To make it more difficult, the tickets were one way-on a boat. Ask my mum about boats. She goes green just talking about them.
My chronology is slightly wrong. My dad went first, I suppose to establish him. He was lucky that had what many donít have, someone to go to Ė family. Between his cousin Teresa and my special great aunt, he was looked after very well. They gave him a very valuable base . Hence, Nottingham.
Obviously you are reading this as a flowing document and the editors will be fully justified if they try to edit this raw manuscript to make it flow. Iím afraid I donít have that luxury. I havenít been at my desk, here, for two days; for two reasons. Firstly I canít sleep and havenít in months. Iíve been advised to stay away from stimulation, such as multimedia and demanding music or such like. Days are turning into night and vice-versa. Not even sure what time of day it is, though itís getting dark.
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