Reflections by Viktor Frankl [Trigger Warning – mental illness discussed]

December 4, 2021


It is December 2021 and I live in the country about ten minutes from the sea in a delightful town called Koroit; famous for its Irish Festival and having the largest Irish immigrant outside of that country. I was born in England. I am living a life I never expected to live. I am so happy.


So what is this diagnosis of bipolar disorder and what value is it to someone when they feel suicidal?


In December 2011 I was a mess. I had just navigated the most intense and soul-wrenching twelve months of my life. At the beginning of 2011 I was embarking on another restart to my life and career having navigated my way through my third annual episode of spiritually gut-wrenching depression and I was feeling hopeful of a new start in what I felt in some ways was a dream role. I had no idea what the coming days, weeks and months had planned for me. I had no idea that at the age of 43 I would, resulting from intense work stress, experience my first ever episode of psychosis. I had no idea this episode would last some six months. I had no idea I would subsequently be almost destroyed through over-medication prescribed by psychiatry. I had no idea of the lack of support, the lack of information, the lack of insight, the lack of help I would receive from mental health services post-diagnosis.


By some miracle I now find myself ten years later transformed.


I’ve completely rebuilt my life, reconfigured my values, redesigned my personality and my character and rewired my brain to achieve a calmer and happier flow in my life.


I could not have achieved all the above without my bipolar brain, nor could I have achieved any of the above without the help of many outside of the mental health services (there is no system imho).


My focus hereon in shine a light on the diagnosis of bipolar and share my story to advocate for a more ethical, a more moral, a more human rights informed, a more fit for purpose approach to mental health and mental illness.


For too long globally, politicians have handballed mental health and mental illness into the too hard basket. This has to change and it will change.


The evidence is readily available. Through the work of people like Dr Richard Bandler and Dr John Grinder and their work in the shape of neuro-linguistic programming or NLP, I found numerous issues with my thinking, my language and my behaviour – most learned from childhood and most unhealthy and unhelpful to my overall health and wellbeing. Through the work of Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka, I found even deeper insight into my path forward of healing and recovery. Being told I had more than one “brain” offered a glimmer of light when psychiatry could not even explain the diagnosis they had given me let alone explain the root cause of the diagnosis.


To understand in detail the role of the heart, the role of the gut and the role of the autonomic nervous system took me to a level of self-exploration and self-discovery that should be available to each and every individual grappling with their inner reality.


The deeper we go within, the more we realise we can evolve our inner and outer worlds to effect a calmer and happier flow of energy in our daily life to contribute to a legacy we can feel a sense of satisfaction on reflection.


And what has any of the above got to do with Viktor Frankl?


His memoir is titled Reflections.


Goodreads quotes:


“Born in 1905 in the center of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire, Viktor Frankl was a witness to the great political, philosophical, and scientific upheavals of the twentieth century. In these stirring recollections, Frankl describes how as a young doctor of neurology in prewar Vienna his disagreements with Freud and Adler led to the development of “the third Viennese School of Psychotherapy,” known as logotherapy; recounts his harrowing trials in four concentration camps during the War; and reflects on the celebrity brought by the publication of Man’s Search for Meaning in 1945.”


Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” which details his experiences during World War 2 inspired me to overcome one of the darkest periods of my healing and recovery journey. It offered the perfect reframe and inspired me to do the work required to rebuild myself as he has rebuilt himself in the face of the worst atrocities known to mankind.