Managing bipolar mood disorder

2018-09-26 06:02
PHOTO: sourced

PHOTO: sourced

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WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?


ACCORDING to the SA Depression & Anxiety Organisation: “Bipolar disorder is a psychological illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy, and behaviour. That is why doctors classify it as a mood disorder which involves episodes of serious mania and depression. If left undiagnosed and un-medicated, your life can be catastrophically affected.

“Bipolar disorder is not restricted to any social class, race, religion or nationality. Many people with Bipolar Disorder are famous and have created literary and fine-art masterpieces, or even led their nations in critical times in history.”

A Howick woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared her story about her life with bipolar discorder.

“Approximately 20 odd years ago, I lost my husband in a very tragic way. I should have started counselling but I left things until a year had passed, when I suddenly became very ill.

“Prior to this ‘breakdown’ I had been seeing a doctor with various complaints, none of which had been diagnosed as anything to do with exactly what was wrong with me. Unfortunately, with Bipolar Mood Disorder, before it becomes fully blown you are normally presenting with one particular mood, which is normally depression. Because of this, you are continually being put into the category of suffering from anxiety and depression.

“In my case, it took a long time of trial and error before it became apparent that this medication was not doing what it was prescribed to do (the last trail resulted in a enormous surge of mania).

“With this terrible out of control behaviour, I was rushed into a psychiatric hospital in Durban where it was decided after a few days that it would be a good idea for me to have ECT, or shock therapy treatment, the reason being that there had never been any episodes of mania prior and the medical professionals had still not cottoned on to the fact that I was displaying both manic and depressive behaviour.

“On thinking back, there had been many milder episodes that I had never sought treatment for. This was due to the fact that I had gone on massive spending sprees and was always the life and soul at social functions, this displayed in the manic episodes.

“After having had the ‘shock therapy’, I changed psychiatrists and the new professional diagnosed me immediately as being Bipolar with psychotic features.

“My first thought when I was diagnosed was that I would just have to take a few tablets and I would be back to normal. I was relieved to find out at last that this ‘illusive thing’ did actually exist, but this was only the first step towards becoming stablised and regaining a quality of life.

“Being a complex illness makes it difficult to get the mix of medication right. In order to be stable, psychological stressors must be dealt with and this works hand in hand with medication. In order to access an improved quality of life I require ongoing adjustments of my meds.

“I have taken responsibility for myself by sticking religiously to my medical regime.

“I miss a lot of things that I loved and used to be able to do, but have tried to compensate by making my life as stress-free as possible. That is why I keep this illness to myself — I lead a double life, walking a very fine line and it can be terribly exhausting on a daily basis. The reason for this non-disclosure is that there is a terrible stigma attached to any mental illness and people have pre-conceived ideas of how a person like myself should be approached under any situation.

“I find that people think that I am of lower intellect on discovering that I suffer from Bipolar Disorder, and this is particularly distressing and false since some of the most intellectual and famous people have also suffered from mental illness, Bipolar in particular, namely: Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens, and Vincent van Gogh, to name just a few.

“Most of all, I miss the person I used to be, however, I do know that Bipolar Disorder does not define who you are — I have learnt to wear different coats for different seasons and this was the most difficult thing to come to terms with. “My psychologist has helped me to accept that I am no longer the person that I used to be.

“The main thing that I have learnt is that by symptom management and actively engaging in accessing the treatment I require, I have been able to attain a quality of life which I want for myself.

“I have also learnt all I can about my illness, which has enabled me to make good decisions about my treatment in order to keep my moods stabilised.

“The quality of our lives can also be greatly enhanced by the support of other people.

“Remember mental illness can happen to anyone, at anytime.”

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