Bipo­lar has de­stroyed my life

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Dear Thelma -

I AM 40 years old. I have been un­der­go­ing treat­ment for bipo­lar dis­or­der for the past 18 years.

Dur­ing the early years of the ill­ness, I was sui­ci­dal but through pro­fes­sional help, my con­di­tion was brought un­der con­trol. There have been many im­prove­ments over the past eight years, al­though I am not to­tally cured.

I still find it dif­fi­cult to so­cialise. I feel lonely and do not have any close friends. Some­times I can­not func­tion well due to the side ef­fects of the med­i­ca­tion I am tak­ing.

I moved from job to job be­cause my em­ploy­ers ad­vised me to re­sign. There were days when I did not show up for work as I was men­tally un­well.

There were days too when I turned up for work, but could not per­form my du­ties.

Now that I am older, my en­ergy level is drop­ping. But I need to work and feed my young chil­dren. I have to de­pend on fi­nan­cial sup­port from my par­ents.

I am not lazy; I just need a job that can ac­com­mo­date my ill­ness. Such jobs are hard to find. On days when I am men­tally sta­ble, I can func­tion very well.

I can­not move to the city to find suit­able jobs as I can­not han­dle the stress of liv­ing in big cities.

I feel crip­pled by this evil bipo­lar dis­or­der. I get very stressed out just thinking about how I am go­ing to sur­vive and raise my young chil­dren.

My fa­ther was my fi­nan­cial provider but he passed away re­cently. This ag­gra­vated my de­pres­sion.

Why is life so cruel to me? I have been through hell for 18 years. Some­times I wish I could just die. I want to start a small busi­ness but I do not have the nec­es­sary funds.

Please ad­vise me. Trou­bled soul It is hard to live with a se­ri­ous men­tal ill­ness like bipo­lar dis­or­der. There is no known cure and treat­ment is fo­cussed on manag­ing the symp­toms.

It is un­for­tu­nate that many peo­ple still do not un­der­stand men­tal ill­ness. There is a lot of stigma and neg­a­tive stereo­types about peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness. Peo­ple do not un­der­stand the dif­fi­culty of liv­ing with a men­tal ill­ness and as­sume that the men­tally ill are lazy and in­ca­pable.

Other mis­placed be­liefs, like men­tally ill peo­ple are vi­o­lent or dan­ger­ous, make it very dif­fi­cult for peo­ple di­ag­nosed with men­tal ill­ness to find em­ploy­ment.

In your case, the first thing you need to do is find so­cial sup­port. Many ma­jor public hos­pi­tals have com­mu­nity-based men­tal health ap­proaches to manag­ing men­tal ill­ness. They have fa­cil­i­ties like day­care and skill-build­ing ex­er­cises to help peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness lead ful­fill­ing and in­de­pen­dent lives.

Check out the public hos­pi­tal in the state where you live. You do not have to move to the big city for this. How­ever, you will have to find your way to a public hos­pi­tal which has a psy­chi­atric depart­ment.

An­other thing you can do is con­nect with the Malaysian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion (MMHA). They will also be able to pro­vide you with the nec­es­sary so­cial sup­port net­work.

Un­for­tu­nately, th­ese ser­vices can­not pro­vide you with the fi­nan­cial help that you need at this point. What they can do, how­ever, is help you man­age your symp­toms.

It may also be nec­es­sary for you to con­sult a psy­chi­a­trist to review your treat­ment pro­to­col. If your med­i­ca­tion needs to be ad­justed – ei­ther in dosage or type – the psy­chi­a­trist will be able to rec­om­mend some­thing that can help you. Now there are newer med­i­ca­tions avail­able, and per­haps there is one that will suit you bet­ter. You will have to fo­cus on one thing at a time. You can­not do all of th­ese and still ex­pect to find full time work. Your pri­or­ity should be your health and the first thing you should do is visit the psy­chi­a­trist.

Reg­u­lar ther­apy ses­sions will also help you cope with the stresses you de­scribe and with any other psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues that you are facing.

Be care­ful with your ex­pec­ta­tions. Th­ese rec­om­men­da­tions are not go­ing to lead to a cure. You will have to live with your men­tal ill­ness. How­ever, th­ese ser­vices will help you man­age and cope. And that is im­por­tant.

As for work, un­for­tu­nately, the only thing you can do is con­tinue the search. With proper treat­ment, your body will be bet­ter able to cope with the ef­fects of med­i­ca­tion. When you can bet­ter cope, you will be able to per­form bet­ter at work. The ef­fects of the med­i­ca­tion will not be as de­bil­i­tat­ing. In­stead, the med­i­ca­tion will help you be­come bet­ter.

Men­tal ill­nesses are med­i­cal con­di­tions. The best way to man­age men­tal ill­ness is through the med­i­cal model. There is a lot of mis­un­der­stand­ing about how med­i­ca­tions work when treat­ing men­tal ill­nesses. Some men­tal ill­nesses can­not be cured, hence treat­ment will fo­cus on manag­ing symp­toms. Medicines work dif­fer­ently for dif­fer­ent peo­ple. It is very im­por­tant to fol­low up with a doc­tor on how you are re­spond­ing to the med­i­ca­tion. Re­port to the doc­tor if your body is not re­spond­ing as well as you would like it to, or the ef­fects of the med­i­ca­tion are in­ter­fer­ing with your abil­ity to per­form at work. The doc­tor will work to find a way to over­come this prob­lem. Peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness need lots of so­cial sup­port. There is a lot of stigma re­gard­ing men­tal ill­ness, which is more dam­ag­ing than the men­tal ill­ness it­self. Peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness want to lead nor­mal lives, too. They need work and money to sur­vive.

It is un­for­tu­nate that the onus is on you to find an un­der­stand­ing em­ployer who will be able to sup­port you through what you need to do to pro­vide for your­self and your young chil­dren. Hope­fully, you will be able to find such an un­der­stand­ing per­son soon.

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