Voiced by Trishna Patnaik
When we talk about a mental illness, we look at it clinically. Is it absolutely clinical and practical? Did we look at it from the eyes of the person who is going through the pain and living with the disorder? I’ve seen the longest I’ve had from bipolar disorder and lived with it to this day. I am a middle aged woman in my fifties.
There is a genetic component associated with bipolar disorder, along with certain environmental factors to which a person is exposed.
I was like any normal child among my 6 siblings, including myself. In reality that was not the case. I had certain behavioral concerns about my skill level and temperament that went unnoticed by my parents.
It peaked and noticed when I was around 20 years old, around the same time that most mental illnesses were diagnosed.
I abruptly ran away from home one morning when I had my first manic episode and my family noticed my outbreak of mania.
I was gone for hours and then they finally found me on a collage campus where I gave a motivational speech about how to make college students stand out in life. I’m a college dropout and when I reached out to a crowd of nearly 5,000 people, I felt connected to them and relived my college days.
My entire aura had expanded into a gregarious being that was out of control. My two older siblings decided to take me to a psychiatrist. My medical evaluation confirmed that I had bipolar disorder and needed immediate medical intervention and assistance. This was something we had never heard of and was further explained by the psychiatrist.
This made the two siblings rethink the scenarios where I also had multiple depressive episodes in my teenage years, where I lay in bed together for hours and then cried uncontrollably. I would also be very grumpy in general and would argue with people about little things.
This was viewed by my parents as being lazy and unwilling to perform any of the tasks as all of the other children in the household found their way.
Now everyone understood how I oscillated between the manic and the depressive phase from time to time, as they did not know the right terms then or otherwise due to a lack of general awareness.
Here is the correct parenting style; The aspect of care plays such an important role. The person will suffer even more if proper parenting plus support is not imparted. At the same time, the peer group and the circle of friends also make a big difference. They are definitely one of the precursors to dragging substance abuse into your lifestyle.
Addiction of any kind is generally bad and especially for a person with bipolar disorder. I was lucky enough to find the right treatment before it was too late.
The psychiatrist suggested that the family intervene immediately and give me shock treatment, which is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or shock therapy, followed by oral and injection medications. After a few sessions, I didn’t need shock therapy, although I have to live with medication and injections for life. I had to be my own doctor and support system for years.
I was prescribed medication to calm myself down during my manic episode so I wouldn’t burst with excitement and the need for constant stimulation. I was even given medication to maintain an adequate sleep pattern and to normalize my fleeting reactions during my depressed period. These types of high-dose medications made me gain weight that I have to deal with.
My siblings encouraged me to share a life with someone, take responsibility, and move forward. Eventually I married someone who understood my condition well. I have a beautiful married son who is perfectly healthy both mentally and physically. He follows his technique.
I am financially supported by my siblings who live in different metropolises in India. I live in a remote village in India and am a well-known and well-connected farmer. I am told that I am a social person and am always seen smiling.
What I find commendable in my case is that the disease even after a person has been diagnosed from the grassroots level and preventive measures have been taken. There was no refusal when it came to bringing it up from the family side and no shame in accepting it from the patient side.
We all built on our consciousness as a family together, and I was supported and accepted by all close and dear people. I believe I survived the disease in a beautiful way. Of course there are times when I get angry.
To this day, sometimes during my manic episodes; I can feel an emotional high. I can feel excited, impulsive, and euphoric. I can also get involved in the following: Enter a shopping spree, push for alcohol, and Gutka addiction.
During an episode of depression it can happen: deep sadness, withdrawal, hopelessness, loss of energy, lack of interest in activities I normally enjoy, periods of too little or too much sleep.
I’ve learned to make friends with my mind as best I can. I live with a smile on my face with my family and friends on my side.
So let’s not be afraid of mental illness or avoid people who can cope with it. Let’s coexist and give everyone a fair chance because anyone with a mental disorder deserves to live holistically as they are fully prepared to fight, survive, and coexist with the disease.
Trishna Patnaik holds a BSc (in life sciences) and an MBA (in marketing) according to qualifications, but an artist of choice. She previously worked as a corporate professional and realized that she wanted to do something more meaningful. She found her true calling in her passion, painting. Trishna is now a full-time painter in Mumbai as well as an art therapist and healer.