If a diabetic can share his illness with family, friends, and society and folks appear to be concerned about it then WHY a person suffering from bipolar disorder hesitate to share it with his fellow beings and at the first place, Why does s/he feel sorry about him and spend a life in a closet with his haunting thoughts?
Before diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, I referred to my ‘sadness’ or ‘excitement’ as casual emotional variation. I have been brought up with proper schooling and used to have enough social activities that everyone enjoys in early life. I used to drive my car to the university. I managed to have a shining and distinctive academic track besides taking too much stress in exam period. I knew that I faced confusion and stress – perhaps because I always used to think on big questions since I was in school. I asked my teacher about the origin of God and the mankind. I used to ponder where these languages came from? And so forth. These are questions that don’t have straight answers. The level of confusion increased to extend that I used to think I might not be a normal person.
I was too much worried about my career and was disturbed due to confusion with sexual orientation, that the anxiety led to nervous breakdown in 2007. Since March 2007, I started Psychiatric drugs, before that I was coping it without any medications. Then in 2011, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 27. After getting this fancy title, I used to analyze my life and the world around with the prejudices of the illness.
Like, I am not a normal person.
I may not live a normal happy life like others.
I am very unfortunate person
I cannot earn enough money to sustain decent life
I may not live a happy family life
And the never-ending comparison between my misery and achievements of friends
I have been taking antipsychotics since 2007 and mood stabilizers since 2011 when I was diagnosed with Bipolar (I don’t skip medicines). And along with the medication, consultation with psychiatrist on regular basis, studying about the disease online and making lifestyle adjustments, I keep experiencing highs and lows (what DSM terms as Depressive and Manic Episodes).
I don’t want to get into the debate whether drugs are working or they are not more than placebo, I just want to highlight by sharing my story that since after the diagnosis I was put on life-time medications which apparently don’t ‘Cure’ my mood instability and give me so much side effects. Nobody would want to take medicines that keep on increasing year by year without producing a noticeable effect on your thinking and behavior, and in return disturb the brain wiring and biochemical proportions that impairs your overall physiology of body (memory function, weight gain, sleep problems, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, kidney failure, blood pressure, cardiac diseases and what not)
Beside the failure and adverse effects of drugs, the label of ‘Bipolar Disorder’ not only alienate me from the world but also make me disable, less efficient, unfortunate and ultimate failure. I know I am suffering from a horrible mental illness so it’s obvious that I can’t live a happy normal life like my friends. We often fight for acceptance in the society. But the truth is, we carry this ‘Stigma’ within us that holds us back to find and enjoy our share of happiness in the world. We see ourselves and predict our lives with the ‘lens of mental illness.’
Furthermore, when we are entitled to enter in the world of psychiatry and mental health, we explore more related stuff about the ‘disease’ and related illnesses. Then we get amaze to explore more psychological problems (that you may or may not have and regardless of the fact that it is legitimate problem or not) For example, Psychiatry justifies every thought and behavior pattern by packaging it as ‘disorder’ Like I was quite excited and thrilled as a child and didn’t focus on studies attentively so I might be suffering from ADHD or I have quite repetitive thoughts so maybe it’s OCD. Initially it looks very fascinating to receive such titles as honorary award.
Now when I recall my life history before and after diagnosis, I can claim with no doubt that my life was much better before the diagnosis. I used to laugh on crazy jokes, I got excitement while meeting friends, I was emotional and sensitive, I got upset and offended easily, I was creative and artistic, I was a bright student, I was sympathetic but I was not a Bipolar. I was a normal person like my other friends.
Today, when I read that bipolar people are creative so I regard my creativity with my ‘disease’ not with my ability. When I knew many great writers in history were Bipolar, so I believed that my writing skills are a gift of my ‘illness’ However I took admission in Mass Communication in 2004 when I knew about my interest and capabilities but after my diagnosis as Bipolar in 2011, I realized, Oh that’s the reason why I have good communication skills.
I don’t claim that problems with cognition and behavior don’t exist. But when we give a title to something, it will become our identity and then it will decide our destiny. We just act us puppets.
P.S. I would better want to be known as a Normal person with emotional variation than a Bipolar – Mental Patient.
The word ‘Disorder’ or ‘Disease’ contains enough negativity for someone (patient to be precise), to curse and consider him as the most unfortunate among his peers. And if it’s some kind of mental illness, then the social stigma would make the situation worse for the sufferer. Ironically, a cancer patient is often capable for gaining public sympathy vote and wishes but a mental patient doesn’t enjoy that privilege. By saying this, I don’t mean that someone going through a psychological problem, needs ‘Public Sympathy’. Not at all. Because this sympathy and extra-attention makes the life of sufferer miserable. S/he thinks that he is no more a human and people including family or friends who know about the disease, alienate the person by behaving and treating differently.
The mental illness is perceived as something very bad and fatal happened to a person, nothing can be done now… he will be on medications for the entire life, and financially dependent on family etc. That’s how the society generally sketches the lifestyle of a mental patient. I would not go in further details as how life-long body diseases like diabetes (pancreatic disorder), Blood pressure/Hypertension and other cardiac diseases, most of the skin diseases and allergies etc and on other hand the mental illnesses are perceived with high level of discrimination and prejudice among people. Because this is what we already knew.
Have you ever noticed that any of the bodily disease, like as I mentioned above, (diseases other than mental illness) come up with some natural gifts or talents? Like Do you know any heart patient or diabetic who achieved something in their life with the help of their illness? I’m sure, Never. But, we know several famous people who achieved something big in their lives by using gifts of their mental illnesses and today the world is using their work and wisdom.
As the the mental illness is the product of brain, so what people call ‘brain disorder’ or ‘disturbance in brain chemicals’ etc often enhances the mind power of the sufferer. S/he can feel and empathize with greater intensity. Most of such people are highly sensitive, caring and emotional. They have exceptional creative and imaginative tendencies. They see the world in a different manner. They are idealist and dreamers. People call them impulsive because they have their standards for decency, honesty and truth. They don’t compromise on their values just for some materialistic benefits. They feel the pain of others, that’s the reason, they are great friends, secret keepers and counselors, They are passionate for what they love. They are true to themselves and sometimes get very expressive that’s why often misunderstood for being insane and impulsive. They value relationships and go beyond limits to make their loved ones happy, for which they are labelled as possessive and demanding. They are not hypocrite who wear different masks and have several identities. They don’t manipulate or misuse others. They are simple and have beautiful thoughts..
.. and finally, they are not attention seekers. They just want acceptance in family, friends, and society as a human being instead of being known as a Mental Patient.
In my next post, Insha Allah I will write about different famous people: scientists, celebrities, writers, painters, philanthropists who were/are mental patients but they are NOT known as Mental Patient. The world witness and acknowledge them in far better and successful titles. (In the meanwhile, if you’re impatient and excited to know them, just search on Google)
Just remember, seeking acceptance from the society comes later. First ACCEPT YOURSELF as Human Being. Your disease doesn’t define you. It’s a part of your life NOT the center.
REMINDER: YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL. 🙂
Blessings be upon you.