Bipolar has destroyed my life
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.