Sean was diagnosed at 27 with Bipolar 1 although he told me he had been depressed since he was 16. Sean first experienced death at the young age of 8 when his baby brother died suddenly and this had a profound effect on him.
Sean had a very addictive nature and started drinking at 16 or so. He started taking drugs at 18-19 or thereabouts. Once diagnosed and on medication he did not change his lifestyle all that much and mixing alcohol with medication was a disaster. Many parties were ruined because of his behaviour.
Sean was a very intelligent young man. He had a responsible job selling business insurance but his lifestyle got in the way and he lost that job. He then worked with APIA insurance. He had a lovely fiancé but once again his druggie mates and lifestyle ruined his relationship. He did various other jobs when well enough to work but when depressed he could not work. When manic he was out of control. He would say to me when manic, “I need to go to hospital to come down off the high”.
As a mother it can be hard to see a lovely looking young man spiral out of control, to rely on me for support and help. It was hard on both of us. He once said to me how lonely he was and that is hard for a mother to see and hear. He lived with me for the last 12 months of his life. A massive heart attack at 39 years ended his not-so-happy life.
He was very devoted to me and once told me I was his rock and he appreciated all I did for him. He was always ringing me if I was away.
The cocktail of an unhealthy lifestyle mixed with inconsistent use of medication and being overweight contributed to an enlarged heart that was not discovered until after his death.
A note from Sean’s younger cousin
Sean died years before I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. I remember when he died and how difficult it was for my auntie who found him dead in his bed. An autopsy had to be done as they were not sure if it was suicide. It was a terrible time for my auntie, especially wondering if he had killed himself. Although it turned out not to be suicide, I still blame Bipolar Disorder for his death. He had strange sleep patterns (sleeping all day, prowling around at night), ate and drank unhealthily (drinking whole 1 litre bottles of coke regularly) and did almost no exercise. I don’t believe he would have behaved like this if not for the mood swings. Now that I have Bipolar Disorder I regularly remember my older cousin and the many mistakes he made. It makes me more determined to take my medication consistently, get good sleep, exercise, eat well, stay sober, avoid drugs, etc.