“I had this great life. I was in medical school, I had great friends, I had a great family and I had a certain vision of what my future was going to be, when I first experienced my first episode. The psychiatrist felt that I needed an anti-psychotic medication and that moment was like, it’s almost like the carpet was pulled from my feet. Kind of saw myself as, you know, less than and mentally ill.”
– Joanna, Psychiatrist, Sunnybrook Hospital.
Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that triggers severe levels of mood swings, including emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression or suicidal tendencies). If a person with this disorder gets depressed, a wave of sadness or hopelessness engulfs them, causing them to lose interest or pleasure in the most basic activities. On the other hand, if their mood changes to mania or hypomania(less extreme than mania), feelings of euphoria might make the mind fully energized or unusually irritable. These alterations of mood swings generally affect normal sleeping patterns, physical and mental energy, daily activities, sense of judgment, overall behaviour and the clarity of thought.
The root cause behind bipolar disorder originating in someone is still variant. Trauma is a big switch that can turn this ailment on. If someone is going through a traumatic period in their life, or if any past trauma comes back to haunt them at their current time, it could lead them in getting this disorder. It can also be borne out of stress over something; be it worrying about university assignments or missing a deceased loved one
“I really felt the stigma. I had a hard time looking people in the eyes and facing friends. People were talking about ‘Oh, when you get better’ and I would look at them like, ‘When I get better, what’re you talking about? This is how I’m going to be for the rest of my life.”
Usually, when people hear someone has bipolar disorder, they immediately stigmatize that statement. They tend to treat the affected person as if the latter is a ticking time bomb. This misconception of the person in question may get crazy in one second and then be totally normal in the other is also prominent amongst people. And this is not something that is as simple as a cough or a cold that goes away, it sticks to that person for life.
“It was a good year and a half until finally, we found the right combination of medications and until I really fully recovered and started to feel fully like myself. Thankfully I haven’t experienced a depression in years, but I definitely do fear it. It’s not like in the forefront of my mind but because of that, I do everything I can to prevent it. I try to keep it in perspective, ‘Okay, it’s part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.’ It affects me, but it doesn’t define me.”
People with bipolar disorders are just as much of a person as any one else. They are in no way, shape or from fragile or weak because of their disorder. Once they find the right treatment procedure for themselves, they can function and lead a normal, if not better, life.