Most of the people who knew him viewed him as an outgoing, humorous chap and a great conversationalist with a broad base of knowledge. He could discuss most subjects with, at the very least, some credibility. This is what he had been told by many.
Beneath this facade lay bipolar disorder. Nobody knew with the exception of his psychiatrist and his doctor. Not even his family and closest friends.
His disorder did not present in a typical, textbook manner. He never became depressed. His disorder manifested in episodes of mild hypo mania following the build up of minor and often unnoticed stressful events. He would stay awake for days and when he did sleep he would wake with a start from a very vivid dream. So vivid that he would confuse it with reality. This was the beginning of worse things to come and it took him many years to recognise these initial warning signs.
His hypo manic episodes were not outrageous but were extremely distressing. They would then lead to racing thoughts, tremors and high anxiety. By the time his symptoms reached this stage he would not, could not, leave the house. He didn’t want people to see him in such a condition.
Over the years he also learned that it was time to seek medical help. He would go through the same motions yet again. Blood tests to check his Epilim and Lithium levels. They were inevitably low….for no good reason. It was just the nature of the beast and his medications would be adjusted accordingly.
When he was well he would socialise and his condition would remain unseen. He wasn’t embarrassed about it. He simply didn’t want to burden other people with his problem. His personality led him to be the one doing the helping. Lending an ear or a shoulder to those who needed it. Ironically he found this therapeutic.
So the next time you encounter a friend behaving ever so slightly different, ask if they’re okay. They will probably say that they’re fine. In the case of ‘the unseen man’ they probably are okay as they have been so accustomed to managing their condition effectively that it has become second nature to them.
Having said this, there are people out there who do not manage their condition so well. Ask them. Listen to them. Support them. Suggest seeking help. You can only do what you can do. If there are indicators of potential self-harm then take action on their behalf. I wish that I could advise you on how to do this but I do not have the knowledge. It is up to you.