Roald Dahl’s daughter Tessa chronicles her life with bipolar disorder

Roald Dahl’s daughter Tessa chronicles her life with bipolar disorder

Prior to his death in 1990, the British storyteller and novelist, Roald Dahl said of his daughter Chantal Sophia aka Tessa Dahl, “She’s by far the most complicated of my children but she’s the most interesting.” Once considered as one of the most beautiful women in the world, the former British actress was arrested in Connecticut in November 2017 for failing to pay her hotel bill amounting to £4,000 (around $5,400).

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1997, Tessa’s life went downhill. Not only was she addicted to Valium and cocaine but was also wheelchair bound. Her family described her as “totally insane, incontinent but funny and sweet.” Her mental health problems aggravated soon after her father’s death in 1990, but the true nature of the condition was diagnosed rather late.

A decade-long struggle with psychiatric illnesses, drug and alcohol addiction, and treatment at various rehabs, followed by suicidal attempt that kept her paralyzed for two years, turned her life upside down. Despite this, her sense of humor and zest for life remained intact. In her own words, “I do not feel sorry for myself, nor have I ever. Sadly though, my most obvious diagnosis [bipolar] went unrecognized for so many years.”

All through her life, Tessa craved for her father’s attention and love and when he died, she lost all interest in life. “Nothing could compensate for the void my challenging father left.”

Childhood marred by sadness

Tessa recounts how she always knew that she was a “train wreck waiting to happen.” Though born with a silver spoon in her mouth, her life was far from the bed of roses. She was haunted by the ghosts of her past, as one after the other tragedies tormented her. When she was just six, her baby brother suffered from brain damage when a taxi rammed into the pram that she was pushing.

Thereafter, sister Oliva, her father’s favorite, died of measles that she had contracted from Tessa. The memory of losing her sister and causing the tiny brother inordinate pain traumatized Tessa. She lived for long under the impression that she was responsible for both the mishaps and revealed that she had to be given tranquilizers to help her cope with the trauma.

Subtle signs of bipolar disorder

Research has indicated that children who suffer from traumatic incidents in childhood have higher probabilities of succumbing to mental disorders in the adult life. Identifying bipolar disorder is difficult as it is associated with both mania phase and depressive episodes. Many times, the symptoms are mistaken with clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or dismissed as mood swings. Some of the subtle signs of the mental disease are:

Increased irritability: During a mixed mania episode, which is the phase when a person undergoes both a manic and depressive episode, a person experiences a gamut of emotions ranging from despair and fatigue to suicidal thoughts and irritability.

Speaking rapidly: It is common for patients undergoing a mania or a hypomania phase to speak rapidly. They could also jump from one topic to another with alacrity. In addition, they have difficulty understanding what the other person is saying as they are preoccupied with their own thoughts.

Having trouble at work: Undiagnosed bipolar disorder can be a source of trouble at the workplace. It leads to productivity issues and failure to complete tasks in time may lead to termination. In addition, frequent mood swings could result in alienation from colleagues.

Indulging in substance abuse: Bipolar disorder is associated with the comorbid problem of substance abuse. People might drink to control their mania or to put an end to depressive feelings. The co-existence of two disorders poses a challenge for health care professionals as it is becomes difficult to assess the true cause of the condition. Drowning oneself in alcohol or drugs further brings about unhealthy behavioral issues worsening bipolar disorder.

Seek treatment for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a disabling mental disorder afflicting nearly 2.6 percent of adult Americans, out of which almost 83 percent cases are severe. The disorder can greatly affect the overall quality of life.

If you or your loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder and looking to connect with reputed centers providing evidence-based bipolar disorder treatment in California, Sovereign Mental Health representatives can help. Our trained staff provide all the help and support to facilitate recovery and make your life better. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts to know about our state-of-the-art bipolar disorder treatment centers in California and other parts of the U.S.

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