Having a History of History

Well I’ve been doing a great job of ignoring everything I was supposed to do today and spent the last several hours reviving a family history project instead.

Stumbling upon an 1880 census record with some of my ancestors information was a bit of a treat, funny how at that time it seems like all of my relatives were farmers with loads of children, everyone living the 1880 hard life so I can go on living the 2011 hard life today.

Dates do give one a general sense of a life that was lived, but I can’t help but wish there was more.

Did any of these people, for example, experience bipolar symptoms? Were there days on the farm where Annie had trouble getting out of bed? Days when she milked all the cows and baked six pies in record time?

The ultimate cause of bipolar disorder is still somewhat debated. Is it caused primarily by external factors? Is it passed down through genetics? Perhaps it is a vulnerability that is passed down that requires an external factor to trigger the onset?

I’m not trying to start a debate here so don’t bother, personally I really don’t care where it comes from. The way I feel now is the way I have felt my whole life. Unlike those who were completely caught off guard by their diagnosis, I’ve always felt that something different was going on inside me.

With hundreds of ancestors though, I find it hard to believe that not one of them might have experienced life similar to the way I experience it with bipolar disorder. As I search the faces in these black and white photos what it all comes down to is speculation.

3 responses to “Having a History of History

  1. I found a complete ancestry record, right from when my relatives got off the boat from Scotland. In one census record, one of my great, great, great uncles was institutionalized at a very young age. They called it “idiocy”, and he died very much younger than the rest of his relatives at 52.

    There are two things that obviously run in my family; ASD and mood disorder. So which one was it?

    Also, curiously enough, there is at least one person in every generation that doesn’t get married. I thought it was curious for a woman in the 1800’s to be unwed. Again, mood disorder or ASD?

    It’s so interesting what you can piece together with some geneology!

  2. I’m the first in my family line to have a mood disorder. There’s nothing on my father’s or mother’s side. My sister has ADHD, but that’s it. It’s just this generation that the genes decided to pop up and say hello to mental illness. It’s awesome that you can piece together your genealogy, it’s always interesting to see where one’s roots come from.

  3. It was never talked about then, because it was understood even less than it is now. Annie may have had her “spells,” but the census data didn’t record them. It would be nice, though. You’re keeping a record for your descendants though, if you think about it.

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