“The Bipolar Mind” Prologue

It happened in the shower.

People say your best ideas come to you in the shower. For me, it was depression.

In the many years since, I’ve felt the onset of this heavy cloud of indifference—one of the many faces of depression—when I woke up, returned from the supermarket, went deer watching in Richmond Park.

But that first time, it was the banal act of taking a shower.

I was a first-year student at University College London. The deadline for my first assessed essay, which would count towards my final grade, was approaching—not to mention the looming first-year examinations. I was living in the student dorm, alone in a crowd of loud, often drunken first-years. I had had my heart broken for the first time several months before. I had succeeded in alienating myself from most of my course mates.

Looking back, it was a recipe for disaster. But at the time, I was genuinely surprised. 

I had never before experienced anything vaguely resembling depression. I was cheerful, bright, intensely driven. People liked me, and I liked them. I came from a loving, supportive family. I was academically successful, having won a top Thai scholarship—awarded to two students each year out of the entire country—to study abroad in the UK. I had realised my up-to-then lifelong dream of walking the same grounds as my favourite footballer, Steven Gerrard. 

I didn’t have bad days, period.

But that January day, I made the short walk to the communal showers on my floor and returned a different person. At some point during the shower, my mind shifted. I did nothing different from the 15,000 showers I’d had up until then. But when I emerged from that shower, my outlook on life was bleak and I no longer felt hope—as if all my optimism and energy had been washed away.

It would take several months before I was back to my pre-shower self. When that finally happened, I would think that I was cured, that I had beat depression. I would be wrong.

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