I am a manic depressive.
What is a manic depressive you ask? Well, to be perfectly honest - no one really knows how to define it. Manic depression is also known as bipolar disorder and (more recently) cycling illness . Recent work done in the fields of psychology and psychiatry has complicated the life of anyone who wishes to understand even the basics of their (or someone else's) mental condition. I'm not going to go into what, how and why is being done because I'm not an expert and I don't really care how you call it or how many items you put on the diagnosis check list. The truth is that mental illness, like most things in life, is not black and white. Most conditions have fuzzy edges, they are simply the extreme ends of a spectrum of normalcy. There is no exact number of hours you have to be depressed in order to reach a goal called "clinical depression", there are no exact moves you have to repeat to unlock the "OCD achievement" and there is no exact border you have to cross in order to get into loony-land.
Most mental conditions are just a combination of circumstances, expectations and weaknesses that become obvious for one reason or another. When I say circumstances, I mean more than the "my dad didn't love me, so I became a stripper" argument. Circumstances means not just the family, but also the age, culture and general surroundings you are born into. Hypothetically speaking, if you were a 15 year old in Uganda drinking waregi all afternoon, every afternoon, you would not be an alcoholic so much as you would be part of the tribe. Expectations refer to how society wants you to act in order to be considered normal. My favorite example of this is how Victorian society viewed female sexuality - basically, if you had a sex drive, you were sick. Finally, weakness simply means your weakest link, the place where you are most likely to break. That weak spot could be anything, form your physical appearance to the wellbeing of your family, to the state of your garden flowers. It depends on the individual, and you are not likely to know exactly what it is until you get close to snapping. Manic depression is just that, an approximate area on the map of human psyche. You aren't really sure how you got there, but before you make that illegal U-turn you get a free roller coaster ride all the way around the borders of loony-land and get back almost in time for dinner.
So, welcome to the loony-land Express! Mind your elbows and hold on tight - this is gonna be a helluva ride!