"Writing 'In My Bipolar Head' was a real psychoanalysis"
20 Jul 2020
François Lejeune has bipolar disorder. He was diagnosed at the age of 20 and initially denied his illness. He nevertheless learned to cope with it over time. In 2018, he wrote "Dans ma tête de Bipolaire" (In My Bipolar Head) and it proved to be a life-saving experience for him and those around him.
Hello François Lejeune, you have bipolar disorder and wanted to share your story.
First of all, could you introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is François, I'm 52 years old, I'm a wine merchant and I live in Paris.
You wrote the book "Dans ma tête de Bipolaire" (In My Bipolar Head) in collaboration with Juliette Lambot, published by Eyrolles Bien Être. Could you tell us about your book "Dans ma tête de Bipolaire"? How did you decide to write the book?
“Dans ma tête de Bipolaire” is a book about 35 years of bipolarity. I felt like writing this book ten years ago to capture all my memories. Describing my manic episodes was for me a way to exorcise those bad moments so that I wouldn't have to relive all the tragedies. This book is a delivery and a fantastic psychoanalysis. My dream came true in 2018, thanks to Juliette Lambot, a journalist, who helped me and guided me through this adventure.
Since it was published, sharing my story with people with bipolar disorder and families of bipolar patients has become vital to me.
What are the main themes addressed?
The themes of the book are childhood and parent-child relationships, and a child's sensitivity to parental shortcomings. Adolescence and youth, being too independent, diagnosis age 20. The crises and depressions that followed, the late decision to accept the disease but above all the will to exist in this world.
Who is this book for? Only for people with bipolar disorder and their relatives? Can everyone relate to it?
This book is intended for an informed public. The facts are real, I offer readers a journey in my mind in all transparency to help understand this illness, for families of people with bipolar disorder and bipolar people. I am not hiding, this is a book that is indeed aimed at an adult audience.
Since its publication, we have realised that many bipolar people have recognised themselves in this book, which gives it a certain legitimacy.
However, other people outside the disorder have appreciated the novelistic side of this life story.
Can this story help people with bipolar disorder better manage their illness?
This book can help people with bipolar disorder. It identifies warning signs of the post-manic phase and describes them in detail. If we refuse to see these signs, that is when the real danger begins. Today, I am able to analyse these situations, which allows me to better manage episodes and push them away.
Bipolar readers and their loved ones will recognize the situations I describe.
Do you think this book can help patients' relatives to better understand and appreciate the disorder?
The book includes the experiences of those around me, and it carries a message of hope. Bipolarity doesn't necessarily condemn you to a dark or depressive life. It can be a chance for everyone to get to know oneself better... Despite the distress, the obvious anguish that the family has to endure, I really want to make people understand that it is possible to pull through it.
It is a reassuring book.
What did you get out of writing this book? Did writing it have any therapeutic benefits for you?
Yes, that book did me a lot of good. I was able to make my family and friends understand why I am the way I am, why I don't have the same reactions as everyone else. It was a kind of bipolar "coming out".
Before, I was eccentric, I hid my illness. Opening up about my diagnosis freed me and I don't want to be ashamed anymore.
Now, my reactions are understood but above all accepted.
How are you doing with the disorder? Are you see someone or being treated? How do you personally manage your bipolar disorder?
Yes, I'm on a lithium and Epilim-based treatment. They're mood stabilisers. I'm not taking any antipsychotics or anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants. This regimen, which I've been on for 10 years, helps keep me stable. I haven't had any episodes lately. I pay attention to my lifestyle and I make a point of getting regular sleep between 6 and 8 hours a night, with a balanced family, social and professional life.
Are you planning to write any more books? What are your plans for the future?
I plan to write a book related to my professional life. My plans for the future are to be happy.
Finally, what advice would you like to give to Carenity members?
My advice to Carenity members is not to hide your illness, whether it's bipolar disorder, cancer, diabetes, or whatever. Don't hide, but talk about it with your friends and family. There are always solutions and there is always someone to listen.
Many thanks to François for having accepted to share his experience with us on Carenity and through his book.
And you, what helps you to feel better?