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Self-Portrait with an invisible tattoo: How I lived with bipolar disorder for most of my life without realising it

WARNING: Some of the details that follow may be upsetting.   DISCLAIMER: The following events refer to no one person or persons in particular.   Any resemblance is purely coincidental.  When I was eleven or twelve, I learned about van Gogh’s death.  A teacher at school showed us the artist’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889)   (left), and explained that van Gogh had cut off his ear before shooting himself.  The teacher also told us that van Gogh had something called manic depression.  There seems to be little doubt that van Gogh suffered from the condition that is now called bipolar disorder, although whether that alone is what led to his death remains uncertain.  According to a recent study , which attempts ‘to assess all mental symptoms ever reported by Van Gogh in his letters or as found in other sources,’ the artist suffered from comorbid illnesses, which ‘probably’ included bipolar mood disorder (with worsening depressive episodes throughout his life), alcohol misuse, and ma

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