on communicability…

Misery is a communicable disease.

Martha Graham

Mental illnesses aren't typically thought of as communicable diseases. There is no bacterial infection to repel. Mosquito netting won't prevent it. But, I'm here to tell you that my mood affects everyone around me - and a whole lot faster than the common cold.

It doesn't matter whether I'm down in the dumps, or bouncing off the walls, my mood is generally miserable. Either I'm too low energy to do anything (like leave the house or even shower), or I'm sleep deprived and irritable from a late night coding session that felt like the most important thing in the world (even more important than getting up for work the next day). Whichever way my mood is swinging, I can still be miserable to be around.

My deep concern is that I'm passing on my mental illness to my children — not just through genetics (which I can't help), but through my behavior. Kids parrot everything that comes their way. It's how they learn. But, I don't want them to do as I do. I want them to be healthy and well adjusted.

Knowing what I know now about bipolar disorder, I'm pretty certain that my mother suffered from it. There were times when she wouldn't come out of her room for days (except to eat). And, there were lots of times when she'd stay up all night working on some project. She called herself a night owl. But, I believe she was actually just bipolar. The signs were all there.

So, given what we know about genetics and mood disorders, I concede that some portion of the blame for my disease lies squarely on my X chromosome. But, I still wonder whether or not my all nighters are simply me mimicking my mom.

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