Like Son, Like Father: Bipolar Through The Generations


When my life was in decay, my mind on hearth, and I used to be misplaced in excruciating despair, it was my dad who rescued me. Once I was consuming two six-packs of beer or extra each evening and smoking crack cocaine, it was my dad who flew from Hawaii to Chicago to spearhead my intervention and save my life. 

Norm Bezane is the final word dad. He’s a famous person father who values kindness above all else. I used to be an toddler when he give up his job to be a full-time “househusband,” as he likes to name it. He was the one who cleaned the home, cooked dinner, baked chocolate chip cookies, drove us to and from college, helped with homework, and took my sister and me to swimming classes. 

He’s a touchy-feely, empathetic human being who taught my sister and me to observe the golden rule, to advocate for peace, and to respect all individuals. 

My dad rescued me from the bipolar abyss once I was identified in 2008. This previous fall, I rescued him. 

In Frequent

Norm is a delicate soul who strives to realize concord in on a regular basis life. So am I.

We each tinker with phrases. In our 20s, we every had difficult, high-pressure jobs in cutthroat media landscapes. I used to be a producer for MTV Information from 2001-2007. In 1965, my dad was at Businessweek, and that summer time after the civil rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama, my dad interviewed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We’re each guide authors. He wrote 4 books about Hawaii, the place he has retired with my mother. I wrote a memoir about my mania, despair, and dependancy in New York Metropolis, and my continued dependancy and restoration in my hometown of Chicago, the place I did hardcore medication on the streets with homeless individuals earlier than my dad saved me. 

And in 2015, 7 years after I used to be identified with bipolar dysfunction, my dad discovered he additionally has the dysfunction. This after greater than 50 years dwelling with the wrong analysis of despair.  

It occurred on a visit to go to Chicago 7 years in the past when my dad determined to see his former psychiatrist. He’d been feeling depressed regardless of the Prozac he was taking. This time the physician despatched him on to a specialist, who declared that he had “basic bipolar.” 

There are 5.7 million individuals within the U.S. dwelling with bipolar dysfunction, based on the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being. Bipolar is a temper dysfunction beforehand generally known as manic despair. Folks with this dysfunction drift between two emotional poles, durations of crippling despair and durations of maximum happiness, generally known as mania, which can be accompanied by grandiose considering and typically psychosis, delusions of grandeur, and hallucinations. 

I’ve had the entire above. Lithium was the magic bullet for me, and I haven’t had a serious manic or depressive episode since I began it in 2008. Due to my household, and thanks particularly to my dad, I’m a recovering alcoholic, sober for 10 years. 

It’s nicely established that bipolar might be handed genetically. Youngsters with one bipolar dad or mum have a ten to fifteen p.c likelihood of growing the dysfunction, and youngsters with two bipolar dad and mom have a ten to 50 p.c likelihood. 


I used to be identified bipolar after a panic assault whereas engaged on the reside present “MTV’s Presidential Dialogue With John McCain” throughout the 2008 election. I used to be already depressed however I couldn’t bear the nervousness, irritation, and sweaty palms that haunted me. I used to be prescribed Prozac, however virtually instantly skyrocketed into mania, which might occur when a bipolar individual takes an antidepressant with no temper stabilizer.

I thrived at work, cranking out tales and movies. However I additionally created esoteric web sites, up to date my Fb standing each 5 minutes, and went on a purchasing spree that included a $1,600 non-returnable Paul Smith tailor-made pinstripe go well with, a basic hallmark of bipolar dysfunction.

My dad’s bipolar dysfunction wasn’t essentially late onset; it was simply undiagnosed. When he was 28, he skilled a nervous breakdown and checked himself right into a psych ward. He doesn’t keep in mind the specifics, however on the time he could have been identified with generalized nervousness dysfunction.  

He lived with that despair for many years and was prescribed Prozac. He had bursts of hypomania, a milder type of full-blown mania, however, channeled into his work, these largely flew underneath the radar. 

His prolific literary output could have been a symptom of his undiagnosed dysfunction. He would sort, discuss, and stroll extraordinarily quick. He was banned for all times from a neighborhood oceanfront restaurant after gatecrashing a celebration to attempt to meet a well-known painter. He was obsessive about pictures, notably creating themed pictorials that includes numerous colours. Inventive insanity goes with the territory of bipolar.

A Final Resort

In my main depressive episode, I had cried day by day, typically sobbing, typically hysterically. However my dad barely left his straightforward chair. He stared blankly on the tv, watching copious quantities of MSNBC. 

His physician prescribed a litany of medication and so they tried completely different mixtures and dosages with no success. Nothing was working. Not even ketamine, an erstwhile occasion drug recognized by its road title Particular Ok, recently used as a therapy for despair.

His despair was so treatment-resistant that within the fall of 2021, he traveled with my mother to Chicago, the place I reside and there’s higher medical care to endure electroconvulsive remedy, or ECT. 

ECT is taken into account a final resort for despair. Whereas not torturous like early electroshock remedy, it does include pulses of electrical energy administered to the mind via fastidiously positioned electrodes with a view to induce seizures, that are recognized to be therapeutic. Sufferers are put underneath anesthesia and given muscle relaxants so their our bodies keep nonetheless. They don’t expertise any ache and so they don’t keep in mind the therapy. 

My dad and mom rented an condominium in downtown Chicago close to the place my sister lives. I crashed on the sofa virtually each evening, giving him cheerful greeting playing cards, balloons, Halloween sweet, or flowers in hopes of lifting his temper. 

He had 12 ECT remedies: thrice every week over a interval of a month at College of Chicago Hospitals. 

I accompanied him for about half of these, with my mother masking the remainder. My sister, who works at UChicago as a instructor, drove us to the hospital every morning. I used to be at his bedside earlier than therapy. And I used to be there afterward as he recovered from anesthesia. 

My brother-in-law picked us up and drove us again to the rental, the place I frolicked with my dad every day, watching completely satisfied motion pictures. I always reminded my dad that issues get higher, that therapy works. However he didn’t really feel higher, even after a dozen ECT classes. 

The docs endorsed persistence, which my very own psychiatrist echoed, telling me ECT might take a few months to kick in. They have been proper.

Rise within the Fall

In October, I traveled again to Maui with my post-ECT dad. He was nonetheless depressed and his bodily well being had deteriorated so severely from the inactivity that I needed to push him via the airport in a wheelchair. 

I stayed to assist. I cooked dinner, walked the canine, washed the dishes, and drove my dad to physician appointments and to bodily remedy to revive his depression-ravaged physique. 

And I watched him rise from the pits of hell. By December, the despair was gone.

I’m nonetheless on Maui with my dad and mom. My dad wants a walker exterior the home, however his emotional well being is regular.

It’s arduous for somebody who has not suffered deep despair to empathize and even fathom how harmful it may be. However I perceive as a result of I suffered too. My dad’s father died by suicide on the age of 76, a destiny my dad doesn’t should share. He simply turned 84. He’s alive. He’s triumphant and he’s joyous and he’s free. My dad is completely satisfied once more. And he’s grateful. I’m grateful too. 

Like son, like father.


Conor Bezane is the creator of The Bipolar Addict: Drinks, Medication, Delirium, & Why Sober Is the New Cool, obtainable on Amazon. He’s a Chicago-based author with bylines in MTV Information, VICE, and AOL. He’s a daily contributor to The Mighty.



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