bipolar disorder

We should not ignore or avoid

I don’t have any mental health problems but the lowest I have felt was when a loved one passed away and I was grieving for a few years. This was when I had to take my O’level examinations. Even then, sadly, I’ve realised that most of my friends did not want anything to do with me or my emotional baggage. I could not study, I could not finish my work which I would then be scolded for. I was lost and I was grieving. Time healed but it took a very long time.

Fast forward to college when my really good friend was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. I saw my friend struggle and was always in so much pain. Although I could never fathom what she/he was going through, I still felt really sad just looking at her/him,

What frustrates me the most about mental health is that I could not understand why someone I cared for had to go through this. Why does someone who is as kind and considerate as my friend have to suffer from this thing called “depression and bipolar disorder”?

These things hindered my friend so much, my friend was so different when she/he went through her/his episodes and that upset me because people who suffer from mental health problems are people just like us, only they have to go through things we would never want to go through.

One thing my friend said that struck me was, “This is part of me.” Over time, some friends and classmates started to avoid this friend of mine. Initially, I held strong resentment towards those who had ignored me in secondary school and I had the belief that “no one wanted to help those with problems”. However, in college, hearing from other friends, I realized that perhaps nobody was at fault.

I understand that everyone has their own priorities and they should focus on their priorities. However, I still feel that we should not ignore or avoid those with mental health problems just because we can not handle their problems. We can still direct them to those who can help them.

I know everything is not black and white and I wish that in our society, more people will be aware of mental health issues and how it affects the person suffering from it and perhaps we can be a little more sensitive and empathetic towards those who suffer. I also wish I was taught how to help those whom I care about.

I really want professionals to teach us ordinary people how we can help those who need our support. We may not be able to treat or cure them and even though my friend believes that this was something she/he had to overcome with her own strength, I still believe, however, that our words and actions have the power to help ease their pain.

Healing is not linear

Mental struggle is real

Having witnessed a friend’s mum commit suicide at the age of eleven and two uncles who lost their lives to suicide, one in Institute of Mental Health and myself personally experiencing anxiety and depression and later being clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I can only say that mental struggle is real.
Healing is not linear even with the help of medication. The love and support from family and friends are what kept me alive.
“Having someone in your life with depression and anxiety means being prepared for any and all episodes. There are going to be days where they’ll want to lay in bed all day. Lay with them. Bring them their favorite drink.
There will be days when you’ll be out socializing, but at any given notice they’ll start shutting down and want to go home. Watch for these signs, remember them like the back of your hand.
There will be days when they’ll be so fragile, and anything can break them. Hold them in your arms while they cry about something that they remembered from years ago, even if they swore they moved on. Do not try to explain to them they need to stop living in the past, now is not the time. Just hold them and show them they are loved.
And lastly, there’ll be days when they will want to be alone and not speak to anyone. Yes, this includes you. Understand this, understand when to give them space. Understand nothing is in spite of you.
Just, understand.”
Let’s break the social stigma!

The only way is up

I’ve been suffering from Bipolar Disorder since I was 11. Misdiagnosed as having clinical depression at 17, my mother discouraged me from taking antidepressants as she thought it was against her religious beliefs.

My condition worsened as my mania disrupted my studies and affected my relations with others. I was ostracised because of my abnormal behaviour. I dropped out of school twice because of my struggles with depression and not being able to handle my peers’ misunderstanding of my condition.   

Now, at 27, having destroyed my career chances and many friendships, I find myself feeling strangely at peace. It may be because I know that in life there are ups and downs and I don’t have to worry about it getting any worse because I already am at my lowest – the only way is up.   

I feel hopeful that God will lead me to the destination I am heading for, despite the path being full of turmoil and troubles. I am a person suffering from an illness, that I have no control over, and I have dreams, hopes, and desires like everyone else. I have fears, worries and problems. I am a human being with emotions. I yearn for someone who would understand me, love me and care for me regardless of my flaws and mistakes that I have made.   

I’ve learned that I deserve love, from all the falling outs I had with friends and family members. Mental illness is not an excuse but it is a condition that greatly affects every aspect of one’s life. But it should not allow others to judge one’s character.   

Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a lot to learn from it and make amends.