The 12th International Review of
Bipolar Disorders
21 - 23 May 2012
Nice, France
www.irbd.org
• Culture and epidemiology
•...
Living and Achieving with Bipolar Disorder
Mad, Bad or ‘Rad’
Sponsors:
IRBD Full Bursary 2012
Travel Grant: Eli Lilly Aust...
Name: Carol-Anne Croker
Gender Female
Age: 56 years
Ethnicity: Australian (UK heritage)
Background: Sole parent of 23 y.o....
PhD Candidature
• Awarded Australian Postgraduate Award, stipend and fee exemption
scholarship for 42 months (full-time), ...
http://s1.zetaboards.com/Cyclothymia/index/
By monitoring my mood states on a
scale between -5 ,clinical depression,
and +...
We have no knowledge, that is no general principles drawn from the
contemplation of particular facts, but what has been bu...
My work includes a 30,000 word Exegesis on my research which is the
creation of a creative arts product, a 100,000 word no...
Creative writing Novel writing
Across my candidature my wellness blog has traced my mood states and
shifts from stable (‘n...
Thus I create an emotionally ‘safe space’ within the realm of ideas and theory,
where my primary focus is exegetical work ...
The Meisner technique allows me to ‘inhabit the world of the character/s thus
revisiting perceived sites of trauma and ill...
By achieving a satisfactory balance between creativity and academic analysis on
the writing craft I will be submitting my ...
Thank you all for your ongoing research and practice.
Thank you to Eli Lilly Australia for my Conference travel sponsorshi...
My medical support network:
•Psychiatrist: Dr John Rogers
•General Practitioner: Dr Bill Panos
•Bariatric Surgeon: Mr Stew...
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Irbd 2012(1)

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This presentation was in the "poster" session to act as a case study for a patient with Bipolar Disorder. It was presented to clinicians and researchers in an effort to demonstrate that it is possible for a person with BD to manage the condition well and particpate in full time tertairy study at the highest levels of achievement in the hope of encouraging Institutional change in attiyudes towards mental illness and destigmatisation of the illness.
The most insidioud stigmatisation exists when the BD person stigmatises themself and thus is unable to publically advocate on their own behalf with employer, community groups, educational institutions and even thir own circle of friends and family.
It is stage one of my ongoing research program using Creative Arts as the vehicle to destigmatise mental ilness in the broad Australian Community.

Stage 2 involves working as part of a group of people with various mental illnesses to workshop and learn the craft of Stand-Up Comedy under a Canadian program, named Stand Up for Mental Health. (Last half 2013)

Stage 3 involves completion of my PhD in Creative Writing investigating through fiction, living with mental illness. This PhD has an Artefact, Walking with Madness plus an exegesis.
(Submitted for examination first half 2014)

Stage 4 is precursory post-doctoral research evaluating my own experience as a performer within the Stand Up for Mental Health program to determine my perceptions of the success and failures of this program in the stated aim of empowering people with mentall illness and destigmatising the illness in the minds of the general public (in Melbourne, Australia). Scheduled research last half 2014.

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Irbd 2012(1)

  1. 1. The 12th International Review of Bipolar Disorders 21 - 23 May 2012 Nice, France www.irbd.org • Culture and epidemiology • Physical/Somatic illness • Physiology/Impulsivity • Suicidality • Neuroendocrinology • Genes and neurotransmitters • Temperament and Cyclothymia • Differential and Dual diagnosis • Co-Morbidity • Clinical management • Adolescents and children • Pharmaceutical treatment options
  2. 2. Living and Achieving with Bipolar Disorder Mad, Bad or ‘Rad’ Sponsors: IRBD Full Bursary 2012 Travel Grant: Eli Lilly Australia, May 2012
  3. 3. Name: Carol-Anne Croker Gender Female Age: 56 years Ethnicity: Australian (UK heritage) Background: Sole parent of 23 y.o. son Socio-Economic Status: Centrelink Disability Pension Tertiary Education: B.A (Performing Arts) Grad Dip Media (production) B.Ed (Media Studies) Dip. Ed.(Secondary Edn) Diploma Professional Writing & Editing Master of Arts (Writing) Enrolled PhD (Creative Writing) Date Diagnosed: August 1989, aged 33 years Medication: Fluoxetine 20 mg, two twice daily Sodium Valproate 200mg two twice daily Valium 5mg, 1 twice per day prn Sumatriptan Succinate 50mg, prn Omeprazole 20mg, prn
  4. 4. PhD Candidature • Awarded Australian Postgraduate Award, stipend and fee exemption scholarship for 42 months (full-time), September 2006 • Commencement February 2007 • End of scholarship June 2011 (two periods of sickness & leave of absence) • Current status: Part-time Submission date November 2012. • Current progress Artefact first draft 100,000 word novel 80% complete Exegesis second draft 30,000 words 80% completed • Conference presentations: 5 internationals/9 domestic (refereed) • Publications: 1 refereed journal article, 1 government report, 1 article • Grants/awards/bursaries: 6 during candidature • Referee for three online journals • Voluntary hospitalisations: 3 x seven weeks ( 2005, 2009, 2011)
  5. 5. http://s1.zetaboards.com/Cyclothymia/index/ By monitoring my mood states on a scale between -5 ,clinical depression, and +5 ; elation or hypermania ;both requiring periods of lengthy hospitalisation, in my electronic Wellness Blog; I know I am onto something significant with respect of living with Bipolar Mood Disorder and maintaining a successful working life. My wellness journals have provided a wealth or reflexive data from which to analyse and make sense of my own stressful periods within the PhD candidature.
  6. 6. We have no knowledge, that is no general principles drawn from the contemplation of particular facts, but what has been built up by pleasure, and exists in us by pleasure alone…However painful may be the objects which the [critic’s] knowledge is connected, he [sic] feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no pleasure he has no knowledge… Wordsworth(1802) For me understanding my own illness and the quest for continuous learning through qualitative research brings me pleasure. Academically I have completed the higher levels of Postgraduate studies since diagnosis in 1989 with BD. I completed my Master of Arts (Writing) by coursework in 2006 and was accepted into a PhD candidature beginning 2007. I selected to pursue a PhD by Artefact and Exegesis rather than ‘traditional’ thesis as it allowed me to utilise practice-led research as my methodology, which in itself allowed for my shifts in mood states across my candidature.
  7. 7. My work includes a 30,000 word Exegesis on my research which is the creation of a creative arts product, a 100,000 word novel entitled, Walking with Madness. I have just completed my full first draft having spent 3 years of my candidature on the literature review investigating Creativity and Mental Illness, Gender roles and social labeling of mental illness. My novel features three women aged from 18 through to 50s and tracks their lives and experiences of mental illness from the 1970s to the 2000s in suburban Australia. It sits in a genre called Creative non-fiction where my own life experiences and ‘facts’ are the generative space for my fiction-writing. Thus one character, Sarah is specifically based upon my life with Bipolar Disorder pre and post diagnosis.
  8. 8. Creative writing Novel writing Across my candidature my wellness blog has traced my mood states and shifts from stable (‘normalcy’) to labile, depression to hypermania. Thus I can identify different mood states within the PhD candidature based upon a model known as the Living Thesis paradigm, where scholars traverse 4 stages within the PhD candidature. Stage 1: Unconsciously incompetent (as academic/researcher) Stage 2: Consciously competent (as academic/researcher) Stage 3: Unconsciously competent (as academic/researcher) Stage 4: C.onsciously compentent (as academic/researcher) By choosing a reflexive model of PhD candidature I have been able to chart my own cyclothymia across seasonal factors, life stressors, and other mood state triggers. Thus I have been able to mediate my own mood states by using the creative process for both periods of depression and periods of mania.
  9. 9. Thus I create an emotionally ‘safe space’ within the realm of ideas and theory, where my primary focus is exegetical work and writing as there exists the constant problem of over-identification during the artefactual; the novel writing processes. I have learned the importance of monitoring both my creative and academic workloads to enable me to achieve a degree of mood-stability and academic competence at PhD level scholarship. I have discovered the need to identify a methodology that allows for the development of a ‘safe writing space’ during the creativity process. This is where my tacit experience comes to the fore. Prior to diagnosis, from the ages of 18 through to my late twenties, I worked as a professional theatre performer and academic.I discovered that I needed to rely on my previous acting training as a writer. When writing in the fictive space, but embodying the experiences of mental illness, I have chosen to use a technique based upon the work of firstly Stanislavski, followed by the adaptation by Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio in New York. The current incarnation is the Meisner technique at the Actor’s Studio.
  10. 10. The Meisner technique allows me to ‘inhabit the world of the character/s thus revisiting perceived sites of trauma and illness, external to my own. ‘lived – experience’ of my own illness. I can create a ‘fictive reality’ within the novel, that has verisimilitude without re-traumatising myself as scholar-author. Thus by using research praxis, together with my own writing through the process using my wellness blog, I can avoid the criticism of auto-ethnographic research, that of ‘navel gazing’ and non-objective immersion in praxis. I can move between self as data, and self as character/author, thus allowing for shifts in mood states and cognitive abilities (e.g. higher-order thinking and analysis). I am thus liberated by using both academic theoretical lenses and my own research praxis to visit and temporarily inhabit the dark spaces necessary for emersion in the creative realm. I need to be well-enough, often enough to be able to know how to get out of ‘there’; to recognise my own signs and indicators to avoid the ease of slipping into mania.
  11. 11. By achieving a satisfactory balance between creativity and academic analysis on the writing craft I will be submitting my novel and exegesis for examination this coming November (2012). This talk forms a small part of a forthcoming article for a monograph, an edited collection of writings on Affective Disorders. The article entitled Mad, Bad or Rad? which I intend uploading in the coming weeks traces the process of : • Identifying a writer’s fears (Al Watt 2010) • Identifying an actor’s fears (Meisner technique) • Academically analysing the function of these fears (exegetical writing) using the Living Thesis paradigm. (Edward Sek Kwong 2010) • Locating these fears within character and narrative development through literary techniques (artefactual writing).
  12. 12. Thank you all for your ongoing research and practice. Thank you to Eli Lilly Australia for my Conference travel sponsorship. Thank you also to IRBD for my Conference Attendance Bursary. Thank you for listening to me as a BD patient case-study. And lastly, I am here today, presenting because of the work and support of my Medical practitioners and Allied Health workers. Sponsors: IRBD Full Bursary 2012 Travel Grant: Eli Lilly Australia, May 2012
  13. 13. My medical support network: •Psychiatrist: Dr John Rogers •General Practitioner: Dr Bill Panos •Bariatric Surgeon: Mr Stewart Skinner •Bariatric Consultant: Dr Carolyn Lloyd(hypnotherapy/dietician) •Psychologist/s: Chris & Geoff Green •Art Therapist: Angela •Yoga Therapist: Beth •Nursing staff: Eliza Ward, Beleura Hospital, Mornington.

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