Sai Kung’s Sadie Kaye rides bipolar express for laughs

Campaigning for understanding of mental illness while making it hilarious

Sadie says she was regularly picked up by police sleep-walking naked before she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder
Sadie says she was regularly picked up by police sleep-walking naked before she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder

If you want to know about bipolar disorder, talk to Sadie Kaye. The Jade Villa resident, who is a TV presenter, actress and film maker, campaigns for better understanding of mental illness.

In Sai Kung she hosts a bipolar support group and writes a blog, bipolarHK.com. Her 30-minute documentary, “The Bipolar Express”, aired on RTHK on May 24.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Sadie is blunt in her candour about what can happen to sufferers before they are diagnosed and treated.

“I was a chronic sleep walker picked up by the police in Sai Kung many times naked. I have been known to knock on my neighbour’s door at 3am with a hockey stick starkers. A taxi driver who knew me once picked me up and took me home and I was wearing nothing but a small towel.”

This was before her illness was diagnosed.  She credits this to Dr Barry Connell, a psychiatrist at the Central Health Clinic.  Barry, a former Sai Kung resident, is the well-known mental health doctor who gave up psychiatry to become a chef with Gordon Ramsay and is credited with memorable phrases such as “psychopaths make great businessmen”.

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Barry put Sadie on a mood stabiliser.  “The swings up and swings down are very minor now,” she said.

Bipolar disorder is characterised by periods of euphoric frenetic creative highs followed by bouts of depression with crying, poor outlook on life, even suicidal tendencies. Stephen Fry is a sufferer who refuses treatment because he can be so creative when on a high.

sadie3Some patients’ quotes from Sadie’s RTHK documentary:

“I had my breakthrough manic episode when I was 16 and thought I was Jesus Christ.”

“You feel like you are 10ft tall and can solve all the world’s problems.  Then when you are depressed there is nothing, nothing.”

Sadie said, “When I am a little depressed, I write brilliant comedy.  But it’s only mild.  I don’t have the extremes any more.”

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Sadie campaigns for better understanding of mental illness and tries to make it all hilarious

Recently Sadie held a book signing at Dymocks Sai Kung for her debut novel, “The Wishing Machine”.  It’s a comic childrens’ book about two mischievious kids who discover a washing machine that can grant wishes.  She has completed a screen play based on the book and is now working on a second.  It has a cast of animal characters with a comic twist.

After graduating from Cambridge University in 1998, Sadie has been a chronic over-achiever.  From her Sai Kung base at Jade Villa, she has traveled overseas to make TV shows, films and charity appearances.  Some of her credits: “Sailing Miss Sadie”, “West of Thunder”, “FLIM: The Movie”, “Wild Horses” and “Tucker’s Luck”. In Hong Kong she is known for “Beezwacks”, a comedy slot on Metro Radio and the current Radio 3 comic programme, “Miss Adventure”.

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