My name is Prakash.
My age is 68. I am fighting bipolar disorder for the last 48 years. At age 20 while studying inter-science in college, I got my first episode of severe depression. As my mother also suffered from mental illness I could immediately realize that I had depression. I was taken to a well known psychiatrist in Mumbai. I was given 1 ECT and antidepressants. I recovered in 3 months but had massive short term memory loss. I failed in my college board exams.
I continued with that psychiatrist for about 12 years. He changed my diagnosis from depression to bipolar disorder when I was 24 after I had a mania phase and had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Mumbai. In those 12 years I had to be admitted about 7 to 8 times and each time involuntary. During this period I was given about 14 ECT’s.
I was lucky enough to complete my education of textile technology with only one failure in the final semester. I got a job in a textile Mills production department. I worked for two and half years and then got a sales job of selling textile machinery in EEC.
One day in EEC while in Mania phase I was talking too much and too loud. My management realized the change in my behavior and personality. Our executive director called me to his cabin and asked me who my doctor was. I had not met my psychiatrist for over a year and was only taking his prescribed medications. When l gave the name our director said he knew him as they were past neighbors. Later I was told to meet my psychiatrist with my father. I thought again ECT would be given, but the psychiatrist adjusted the doses and told me to take a month’s leave from office and meet him every month even if I felt better or worst. Within a month I recovered and my job was saved. Also my management came to know of my mental illness and accommodated me.
One day I became paranoid but I did not want to consult my psychiatrist due to fear of getting ECT. I told my father to the best of my ability how I was feeling and I wanted to see a doctor. We decided to first meet a cousin of mine who was a general practitioner doctor. He prescribed me a antipsychotic tablet to be taken twice a day. We came home buying the tablet on the way and at home I took the first tablet. Within 10 minutes I went into a shock. Electric currents started running through my limbs and head. I could not move my body and lost my strength. I thought I was dying.
Few weeks before this cousin doctor, had visited our home with his classmate who was a psychiatrist. He had checked me and given his prescription, which I had ignored. I told my father where that prescription was and to talk to this psychiatrist. He said to immediately bring me to Joy hospital at Chembur, Mumbai. I was supported from both sides and taken to a taxi to go to the hospital. On the way I was sure I was dying as not only my body but my mind also was behaving in a strange way. At the hospital I was given a dozen bottles of saline water. I recovered after a week in the hospital.
Under my 2nd psychiatrist I still got 3 to 4 episodes of depressions with anxiety a year. This continued for 10 years. Every episode I took leave for 4 to 7 days and my psychiatrist would give me 6 to 7 injections at a time for 5 days and I use to recover. There were also a few years when there were no relapses. While taking treatment under this psychiatrist, I got married. My only son was born. I went on my first of my several overseas trips for official work. Travelled all over India for my office sales promotion and service. Went on vacations with my family, etc.
But I was not happy with the injection therapy. So I changed to a 3rd psychiatrist a lady this time and very near my house. First thing she did was stopped my sleeping pills I was taking for more then a decade and also Lithium which I was taking for 2 decades. She put me on anticonvulsant medicatons. My episodes reduced to 2 to 3 a year and my quality of life improved for the first time. I started getting promotions in my office as my work results improved. This psychiatrist introduced me CBT.
The lady psychiatrist taught me how to recognize Cognitive Distortions in my negative thoughts and how to modify them to realistic thoughts. She gave me copies of pages from the book Feeling Good by Dr David D Burns, M.D. I immediately purchased the book and read it several times. I use to carry the book with me on my trips overseas and all over India. It became my Bible. During this time I got a tablet gift from my company. So I became tech savy. I began surfing the net for information on depression, my prescription medication, mental illness, etc. Then I came to know about the App Quora. It was a question and answer forum. I became a member and in its mental health section I could get much information on bipolar disorder. I also started contributing answers. I had started purchasing new and secondhand books on depression, bipolar disorder etc and had a good collection by then. Till date I have written more then 3000 answers on Quora.
After about 10 years the lady Psychiatrist decided to go on a 2 months vacation overseas and in her clinic to take care of her patients, appointed Dr Shefali Batra M.D. a psychiatrist, who had just cleared her M.D. Psychiatry exam from a Mumbai college. I was introduced to Dr Batra on my first visit and next visit she was alone. Dr Batra gave me an hour and heard my whole story from the beginning. Then she took the prescription sheet and wrote the medications. She asked me if I was familiar with any of the 6 medications. I said except Depsonil others were new to me. She told me to meet after a week.
When I woke up the first day after taking the new medications, I felt some good feeling in my mind I had not felt since my first episode of depression. I met Dr Batra after a week and told her she had done a good job. After the lady psychiatrist returned from vacation, I shifted to Dr Batra. Every visit she gave me 60 minutes. She then started fine tuning the cocktail of my medications every month and in 2 years my symptoms of bipolar disorder vanished and I became stable about at the age of 58.
For the last 10 years I am stable and regularly in touch with Dr Batra by WhatsApp and mobile. She now stays in USA and whenever she comes to Mumbai, I meet her. My cocktail of medications worked out 10 years ago is being taken by me every day. The side effects I face is some times dryness of mouth, tremors in the hand and constipation, but over the years I have found coping methods. Other then medications, I follow strict sleep hygiene and eat nutritional and balanced diet. Sometimes I feel I should have met Dr Batra earlier in life. But there is a saying in Hindi,
Samay Se Pahle Aur Bhagya Se Jyada Kise Ko Kuch Nahi Milta.
Prakash ji is a stalwart of our Peer Support Community and he generously shares insights and learnings from his invaluable experience of decades of living with Bipolar Disorder and overcoming it. We are fortunate to have Mentors like him to guide and nurture our members and are grateful for his contribution.
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