Dhruv, June 4, 2018

"Living with bipolar is like a rain shower in a drought or an avalanche: refreshing but also destructive." - Dhruv

Most people start adulthood, looking to the future, at a world of possibility. The transition from teenage life to adulthood was marked by when I diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder type II at 20. After several years of low and high mood swings as a teenager, and my condition being undetected at school - passed off for adolescence and not having a clear enough direction for my future - I ended up at medical school, deeply unhappy, unfulfilled and with no desire to complete my course.

I had by now realised I was LGBTQ. After many years of being repressed and in the closet, things finally came to a head. Before I knew it, I had dropped out, had a breakdown, come out and restarted a degree that I actually wanted to study - and not because of family and cultural pressure. Coupled with this was that I come from a family of medical professionals and a South Asian background. None of these overlapping identities were easy.

Now, 12 years later, much has changed in my life and yet much has not in terms of the stigma and discrimination I have experienced, due to my condition. The perception of the condition, in part thanks to the work of people like Stephen Fry, has meant manic depression has become demystified somewhat.

Yet my experience of the disorder is as different to that of someone else, as two fish swimming in the same ocean with distinctly different colours of their scales. Bipolar is my best friend and my worst enemy; like a rain shower in a drought or an avalanche on a mountainside village. It can be refreshing and bring with it a range of creativity but also be destructive and hard to rebuild from in the wake of its damage.

In the time since I was diagnosed, I have worked abroad in several different countries and experienced both direct and first-hand intolerance and misunderstanding. I have experienced the struggle of living with the condition at work, at home, in my relationships and with my family. It has lost me jobs, damaged my friendships, challenged my romantic relationships and affected the well-being of my family. 

Even today in the UK, with the Equality Act (2010) and Disability Rights enshrined in legislation, it is easier to say ‘I have a bad back’ than ‘I have bipolar’, as it can risk you losing a job, not being hired, being misunderstood and being made to be a social pariah. I am one of the lucky ones, living in a society where the law and charities such as Mind and Time to Change work to end the problems people with the condition face. 

I don’t regret the condition - only the damage it has done to my nearest and dearest. Ultimately it is my cross to bear. I wait for a day when a person with bipolar is looked at, judged and supported in the same way as someone with a physical ailment. When the brain and mind are treated as if they were any part of the human body.

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Comments

Help me make it past the holidays

I am sure as most of you can imagine, the easiest way someone outside of your situation can handle your lows is just to call you "crazy". I am a full time supervisor at a hectic hotel in Miami. I go to school for a degree I have no interest in because poverty is so real here in the city. I have two beautiful daughters that are 2 and 4 and I am now single...29...and sad...so so sad. I just got out of an abusive 7 year relationship with a Cuban man. He knew how to play with my mental illness like a instrument. Now I moved out, I am living on my friends couch and I only see my girls half a week at a time. During that time my depression is so bad I can barely take the girls to the park and im irritable and i try not to cry. My ex calls me crazy but being raised in Virginia, things used to be at a much slower pace. I am confused, I have no family here, Im broke and I have never felt so lost. I am so very depressed, I have anxiety attacks in the shower and now I am slowly losing the will to get up in the morning. I have tried medication but I haven't seemed to find the right one and if I miss a single pill my world starts falling apart again. When I talk to my love ones they seem to not be able to handle my ups and downs. I can try a therapist again but im scared to spend the money. I am a great mom, a hard working student, a dedicated employee. I dont understand why I have to suffer. Can anyone offer any advice? A certain medication? I group chat? A friend? The holidays are coming and its my job as a mother to create magical moments. I cant do that when I feel like dying.....

Time to Change

Hi Devon, this sounds really difficult and I am sorry to hear that you are having a tough time at the moment. Is there anyone you can talk to about this? Is there someone you could talk to today? We have some links to support available on our website here: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-and-stigma/help-and-support They are all specific to the UK but you might be able to find a national equivalent. Take care - Tash at Time to Change

Hi...

I will be your friend.

Friend

I really appreciate that. I’m doing better this week. I’m just taking it one day at a time.

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