I think we need to embrace people with a mental illness within the community to feel that they have the same opportunities as those without a mental illness
What is it that you struggle with?
I have Bipolar Type 2. I wouldn’t say it’s as much of a struggle as it has been in the past but there are some days that are better than others.
How long has it been a problem for you?
I was diagnosed in mid-2013 after having problems with juggling work/life stressors. Upon reflection, I’ve realised moments in my life where elements of this illness have been present in daily life pre-diagnosis. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that I’ve had Bipolar for 14 years. As with being a struggle, I don’t believe it’s a problem unless it goes mismanaged or untreated. People with bipolar are everyday people just like everyone else and you don’t know what someone is dealing with in their mind.
How does it affect your daily life?
It used to have significant impact on every aspect of daily life, from personal hygiene to social interaction. In the depressive or low mood phase of Bipolar disorder, it’s a lot harder to maintain relationships and personal hygiene because your feelings and thoughts are internalized, you become numb to the outside world and block everything out, not on purpose but you basically just live within your own mind. During the manic or high moods, spending money is easy, I’d often make rash decisions without consulting my partner or engage in risky behaviour such as speeding excessively or driving dangerously. Nowadays, I’m more aware of the triggers that spark these behaviours and I would consider myself as functioning on quite a mostly even keel thanks to the right medications and behaviours.
How do other people’s actions or opinions affect you and your condition?
I get quite sensitive towards people who are rude or show disrespect towards me and my time. I also get quite agitated by loud or strange noises. It really depends on the mood and the situation I’m facing. People’s actions either directly or indirectly can have a domino effect on my mood. I’m particularly sensitive towards certain actions, then it frustrates me and alters my mood. No-one has openly negatively discussed my condition. Most people who are aware of it are supportive.
How do you think people in the community can be better educated about this?
I think too often bipolar is coupled with depression and anxiety when it deserves to stand alone. I don’t think people know enough about it, I know that the Black Dog Institute conducts speeches and seminars at schools and workplaces by people with bipolar and mental illness. I think we need to embrace people with a mental illness within the community to feel that they have the same opportunities as those without a mental illness, ie employment. I don’t think people understand that others can live a high-functioning life with a mental illness. Sometimes it’s not about making a big deal about the illness itself but just knowing how to be there for the person when they need it most. Educating kids early in school, more social support groups for people with a mental illness, putting it in the public sphere more, the attention seems to be sporadic rather than constant. Hence, I think it loses its relevance and people forget about it. Maybe have mental health talent showcases within communities to show that we can achieve just as much as people without a mental illness.