One in four people suffers from a mental disorder at some point in their life. And the Covid-19 pandemic has further heightened these unrest. To break the taboo, personalities and anonymous confide in the microphone of Yahoo in Torments.
Co-founder of the association “La Maison Perchée”, a place of exchange and mutual aid, Maxime Perez Zitvogel has been supporting young people in psychological distress for several years. 29 years old and bipolar himself, he agreed to give himself up on his journey at the microphone of Yahoo.
He clung to life and managed to accept his difference. Suffering from bipolar disorder, Maxime Perez Zitvogel is now at the head of “La Maison Perchée”, an association that helps young people with mental illness. This young man, with a painful past, has faced many hardships that he agreed to talk about. At the microphone of Yahoo, he notably returned to his first symptoms, the hard moment of his diagnosis and told how he fought to live with this disease on a daily basis.
“I gained 30 kilos, I partially lost my sight”
Maxime would like to remind those who don’t know: bipolarity is a mood disorder, favored by biological and genetic factors, which is defined by the alternation of depressive episodes and manic phases. A change in behavior of which he was the victim, for the first time, during his trip to China, to Hong Kong. It was there that the first symptoms appeared.
Lack of sleep, overflowing creativity, reckless spending of money: the young man, then 22 years old, began to wander. He left his business school to create four companies simultaneously, chained parties and made reckless actions. “I even made a marriage proposal that had no place to be”, he recalls. His friends no longer recognize him to such an extent that they warn his mother of his about-face.
“I spent 17 months locked in my room without going out”
Repatriated to France, he is hospitalized and understands the urgency of the situation when he wakes up in a room, tied up, without knowing why or how. “I don’t wish it on my worst enemy. At that moment, I realized that I had messed up, that I was not there for nothing and I was scared”, he explains while thanking, once again, the nursing staff for having been present to reassure him. Quickly, he discovers the world of psychiatry, a ruthless universe from which it is impossible to escape unscathed.
Placed in a double room, he witnesses “hardcore” situations. His roommate does not make his daily life easier. “He was screaming every night because he thought he was on fire. It was impossible for me to sleep, it was violent”. Aware of everyone’s psychological problems, Maxime waits to be informed about his own. Quickly, the diagnosis falls and there everything changes. “We explain to you that bipolarity is a real handicap. That you will have to take medication for life with heavy side effects and that for a whole host of reasons, life will become complicated”. A frightening state of affairs which it would have done well without. For him, it’s the beginning of a long “fight” whose first moments were painful or even unbearable. “I spent 17 months locked in my room without going out, I even attempted suicide”, he confides. The sequel is just as dark. The side effects of his medications are undermining him. Victim of tremors, he gained 30 kilos and partially lost his visual acuity.
“This madness of bipolarity allows me to have a clairvoyant side”
But since then, Maxime has picked up the slack and learned to accept his illness, to live with it. His drug treatment stabilizes him and allows him to evolve “normally”. “Some shrinks have strongly recommended that I quit smoking, drinking, almost living. But I don’t necessarily agree. It’s all about balance”, he recalls while explaining that he has changed, despite everything, some of his habits. For example, he no longer takes public transport and walks an average of 10 kilometers a day, a beneficial activity from which he feels the benefits. As for the nocturnal trips he was fond of, he hasn’t stopped but now respects the three-hour rule.
“I am master of my means. I manage to work like anyone else, even much more than the others”, he explains, proud of his career. And Maxime has reason to rejoice because he has succeeded, over time, in making his difference a strength. “This madness of bipolarity gives me a small clairvoyant side. Ideas flow and allowed me to set up a project never realized before”. Through hard work and determination, he co-founded “La Maison Perchée”, an association that supports young adults with mental illness.
“I dream of being able to live in a world without having to hide from illness”
Today, Maxime dreams of a completely different world, a “free” world where he could live without having to hide from his illness and in which humans would accept each other as they are, strong in their differences. The young man even dares to imagine a future where bipolar and schizophrenics would be solicited by companies for their creative side. “The machine is running. A lot of start-ups are getting into it and starting to value the potential of these people”.
“This feature should be seen as a plus and not a minus”, he explains while recalling that across the Atlantic, many personalities have agreed to lay bare and make their “coming out” like Kanye West, Mariah Carrey or Robin Williams. For him, this taboo should no longer exist in France, a fight against which information and awareness remain the best weapons.
Find the full interview with Maxime Perez Zitvogel here: