The Overdue Diagnosis and The Loss
In this essay, Greta Sept describes her early experience of living with Bipolar Disorder I.
Mental health problem is a subject that remains stigmatised and misunderstood in Indonesia. Many people failed to understand of the gravity of challenges that a person with mental problems may face. In my personal experience, some people easily dismissed mental health problems as a subject that could be taken lightly.
I have been living with Bipolar Disorder I for at least a decade. I grew up away from my parents and that time, I was unaware of my condition and dismissed it as a simple mood swing. It affected my relationship with friends and boyfriends and despite of seeking help from psychologists, my efforts remained futile. It never occurred to me that I was dealing with a condition that needed to be medicated. It took me seven years to realise that I was suffering from hormonal imbalance that needed further help than counseling.
The diagnosis was overdue. By that time, friendships and relationships had already been severed as I have inflicted a great deal of pain to them, to the point of no return. I was filled with guilt and self-loathing. As I started my medication, I withdrew from society, shutting out the little amount friends that I had left because I was afraid to hurt them as I have hurt others. For a few months, I remained a recluse, a NEET to be exact. I was afraid to leave the house, fearing that I might into bump into friends and a significant ex-boyfriend who understandably dumped me for a new girl with less emotional baggage (he was inflicted to pain the most). I was completely immobilised and too dysfunctional to keep a job and integrate to society.
Stability was a luxury that I couldn’t afford. My mood fluctuated from feeling invincible to feeling like I’m a piece of useless crap. I was constantly anxious and suicidal thoughts often occurred. I could never predict how I would feel from one moment to the next. All I know that once triggered, my depression could last for days. On my manic phase, I would engage in reckless behaviour and feel overwhelmed by the sudden burst of ideas that I couldn’t keep up with.
Now that me and my immediate family members are educated about my mental health issues, I feel that it has become easier to deal with it. I am still reluctant to share my difficulties with new friends and I believe that most of them are not aware of my issue because of the façade I chose to put on. My close friends have been nothing less than supportive, understanding and appreciative for the effort that I have invested to maintain a healthy relationship with them. I’m grateful that my friends are honest and encouraging of my journey to get better instead of indulging me with sugar-coated dishonesty.
If you are suffering from overwhelming anxiety and depression, don’t be afraid and embarrassed to seek professional help. Problems with mental health would not only affect your mental wellbeing, but also physical health. Have courage, because you’re not alone. Someone, somewhere in this world, knows exactly how you feel.