Like Son, Like Father: Bipolar Via The Generations

When my life was in decay, my mind on fireplace, and I used to be misplaced in excruciating melancholy, it was my dad who rescued me. Once I was consuming two six-packs of beer or extra each evening and smoking crack cocaine, it was my dad who flew from Hawaii to Chicago to spearhead my intervention and save my life. 

Norm Bezane is the last word dad. He’s a famous person father who values kindness above all else. I used to be an toddler when he give up his job to be a full-time “househusband,” as he likes to name it. He was the one who cleaned the home, cooked dinner, baked chocolate chip cookies, drove us to and from faculty, helped with homework, and took my sister and me to swimming classes. 

He’s a touchy-feely, empathetic human being who taught my sister and me to observe the golden rule, to advocate for peace, and to respect all individuals. 

My dad rescued me from the bipolar abyss once I was recognized in 2008. This previous fall, I rescued him. 

In Widespread

Norm is a delicate soul who strives to attain concord in on a regular basis life. So am I.

We each tinker with phrases. In our 20s, we every had difficult, high-pressure jobs in cutthroat media landscapes. I used to be a producer for MTV Information from 2001-2007. In 1965, my dad was at Businessweek, and that summer time after the civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, my dad interviewed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We’re each guide authors. He wrote 4 books about Hawaii, the place he has retired with my mother. I wrote a memoir about my mania, melancholy, and dependancy in New York Metropolis, and my continued dependancy and restoration in my hometown of Chicago, the place I did hardcore medication on the streets with homeless individuals earlier than my dad saved me. 

And in 2015, 7 years after I used to be recognized with bipolar dysfunction, my dad came upon he additionally has the dysfunction. This after greater than 50 years residing with the inaccurate analysis of melancholy.  

It occurred on a visit to go to Chicago 7 years in the past when my dad determined to see his former psychiatrist. He’d been feeling depressed regardless of the Prozac he was taking. This time the physician despatched him on to a specialist, who declared that he had “basic bipolar.” 

There are 5.7 million individuals within the U.S. residing with bipolar dysfunction, in accordance with the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being. Bipolar is a temper dysfunction beforehand often known as manic melancholy. Folks with this dysfunction drift between two emotional poles, durations of crippling melancholy and durations of utmost happiness, often known as mania, which might be accompanied by grandiose pondering and generally psychosis, delusions of grandeur, and hallucinations. 

I’ve had the entire above. Lithium was the magic bullet for me, and I haven’t had a significant manic or depressive episode since I began it in 2008. Because of my household, and thanks particularly to my dad, I’m a recovering alcoholic, sober for 10 years. 

It’s properly established that bipolar may be handed genetically. Kids with one bipolar mother or father have a ten to fifteen p.c probability of creating the dysfunction, and youngsters with two bipolar dad and mom have a ten to 50 p.c probability. 


I used to be recognized bipolar after a panic assault whereas engaged on the reside present “MTV’s Presidential Dialogue With John McCain” throughout the 2008 election. I used to be already depressed however I couldn’t bear the nervousness, irritation, and sweaty palms that haunted me. I used to be prescribed Prozac, however nearly instantly skyrocketed into mania, which might occur when a bipolar particular person takes an antidepressant and not using a temper stabilizer.

I thrived at work, cranking out tales and movies. However I additionally created esoteric web sites, up to date my Fb standing each 5 minutes, and went on a purchasing spree that included a $1,600 non-returnable Paul Smith tailor-made pinstripe go well with, a basic hallmark of bipolar dysfunction.

My dad’s bipolar dysfunction wasn’t essentially late onset; it was simply undiagnosed. When he was 28, he skilled a nervous breakdown and checked himself right into a psych ward. He doesn’t bear in mind the specifics, however on the time he could have been recognized with generalized nervousness dysfunction.  

He lived with that melancholy for many years and was prescribed Prozac. He had bursts of hypomania, a milder type of full-blown mania, however, channeled into his work, these principally flew underneath the radar. 

His prolific literary output could have been a symptom of his undiagnosed dysfunction. He would kind, speak, and stroll extraordinarily quick. He was banned for all times from an area oceanfront restaurant after gatecrashing a celebration to attempt to meet a well-known painter. He was obsessive about pictures, significantly creating themed pictorials that includes varied colours. Inventive insanity goes with the territory of bipolar.

A Final Resort

In my main depressive episode, I had cried day by day, generally sobbing, generally hysterically. However my dad barely left his straightforward chair. He stared blankly on the tv, watching copious quantities of MSNBC. 

His physician prescribed a litany of medication they usually tried totally different combos and dosages with no success. Nothing was working. Not even ketamine, an erstwhile occasion drug identified by its road title Particular Ok, currently used as a therapy for melancholy.

His melancholy was so treatment-resistant that within the fall of 2021, he traveled with my mother to Chicago, the place I reside and there’s higher medical care to endure electroconvulsive remedy, or ECT. 

ECT is taken into account a final resort for melancholy. Whereas not torturous like early electroshock remedy, it does encompass pulses of electrical energy administered to the mind by means of fastidiously positioned electrodes with a purpose to induce seizures, that are identified to be therapeutic. Sufferers are put underneath anesthesia and given muscle relaxants so their our bodies keep nonetheless. They don’t expertise any ache they usually don’t bear in mind the therapy. 

My dad and mom rented an house in downtown Chicago close to the place my sister lives. I crashed on the sofa nearly each evening, giving him cheerful greeting playing cards, balloons, Halloween sweet, or flowers in hopes of lifting his temper. 

He had 12 ECT remedies: 3 times every week over a interval of a month at College of Chicago Hospitals. 

I accompanied him for about half of these, with my mother masking the remaining. My sister, who works at UChicago as a trainer, drove us to the hospital every morning. I used to be at his bedside earlier than therapy. And I used to be there afterward as he recovered from anesthesia. 

My brother-in-law picked us up and drove us again to the rental, the place I frolicked with my dad every day, watching pleased films. I always reminded my dad that issues get higher, that therapy works. However he didn’t really feel higher, even after a dozen ECT classes. 

The docs endorsed persistence, which my very own psychiatrist echoed, telling me ECT might take a few months to kick in. They have been proper.

Rise within the Fall

In October, I traveled again to Maui with my post-ECT dad. He was nonetheless depressed and his bodily well being had deteriorated so severely from the inactivity that I needed to push him by means of the airport in a wheelchair. 

I stayed to assist. I cooked dinner, walked the canine, washed the dishes, and drove my dad to physician appointments and to bodily remedy to revive his depression-ravaged physique. 

And I watched him rise from the pits of hell. By December, the melancholy was gone.

I’m nonetheless on Maui with my dad and mom. My dad wants a walker outdoors the home, however his emotional well being is regular.

It’s exhausting for somebody who has not suffered deep melancholy to empathize and even fathom how damaging it may be. However I perceive as a result of I suffered too. My dad’s father died by suicide on the age of 76, a destiny my dad doesn’t should share. He simply turned 84. He’s alive. He’s triumphant and he’s joyous and he’s free. My dad is pleased once more. And he’s grateful. I’m grateful too. 

Like son, like father.


Conor Bezane is the creator of The Bipolar Addict: Drinks, Medication, Delirium, & Why Sober Is the New Cool, accessible on Amazon. He’s a Chicago-based author with bylines in MTV Information, VICE, and AOL. He’s an everyday contributor to The Mighty.


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