Bren­dan, 26

Dubbo Photo News - - Issue -

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.

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