Screaming Dove

Manic Depression times four - No mother has endured four children with the manic-depressive gene for 36 years, and, in league with one of her offspring, written about the lack of inhibition, horror and vigilance accompanying extreme moods. This is a candid study from insiders of the communication breakdowns, medication, red tape, misunderstandings and suicide of one family member. Sally and Simon are survivors, and Charles,though suffering highs and lows is too quick-witted by far to get entangled with the medical world. Mum's mother, Dandan, never approached anything directly. She was feline in her inconsequential tangent-like approach to something upon which her mind was set like a vice. Alex was often mistaken for a doctor at the nurses' parties where he worked and was much admired as an artist. Deranged, he was unable to admit himself to a mental hospital and wrought havoc in his dream house. Mum awoke to a thunderous racket. All the doors in the house were forcibly banged and torn open and banged again. There was a noise of shattering glass and china and heavy footfalls pounding on the stairs. Mum's heart beat loudly. She breathed heavily. She knew Alex would not hurt her when he was himself. He was a gentle being. Now he was certainly not himself. She cowered under the bedclothes. Mum, who had to contend with her indomitable mother and innumerable harrowing experiences could still, aged 98, say, I've had many happy days in my life.