By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Stability in Mind
By Neil Cole (New Holland, $29.95, softcover, 243 pages)
The insight gained from the experiences of Neil Cole is sure to motivate other sufferers of mental disorders.
What sets Neil apart is that he’s the first MP in Australia (Shadow Attorney General in the Victorian Parliament at the time) to publicly declare that he had a mental illness, which proved to be an important step “towards [its] acceptability”.
This chronicle is not about his life or any contributions he may have made, but about his mental illness, bipolar mood disorder.
“Depression has given me a great insight into what is important in life, as well as a certain form of resilience”.
It is told with veracity, a lack of guile, wit and echoes a suffering that touches to the core. It also fosters a better understanding of the illness for the general public.
In 1995, Cole had to resign and says he didn’t want to disclose the details to the public, but was “forced to when fellow parliamentarians and party workers … in an attempt to discredit me, told the media of my mental illness”.
Neil has had a fair share of trials and tribulations, having spent the first 35 years of his life not knowing he had this illness.
However, he has also accomplished much: as a lawyer, a Melbourne City councillor, a Victorian Member of Parliament, an advocate for mental health, a researcher, a celebrated playwright and an author.
Billed as a ‘memoir of politics and plays in the shadow of bipolar disorder’, Stability in Mind incorporates Neil’s early life, family history, his academic years and the many facets of his career.
It also examines how mental illness shapes a person’s life, decision-making and future direction.
His life proves what a “person can do against the odds”—successfully.
Edition 405, 15 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.