Hi! I am Sanjay, based in Kolkotta and am married to Suchitra.
It has been ten years since I have known that I have Bipolar Disorder. While a few close to me know about it, I have been quite private about how it. I have always been embarrassed by it and also a little scared of what people might say. Sometimes, I had feelings that perhaps I had brought this on myself despite what I knew, or that maybe I just needed to harden up and carry on.
There is a lot of irrational emotion associated with Bipolar. Once I found out, I read everything I could about BD. Since then I have tried to install safety barriers to help protect myself. I tried different cognitive methods, talking (very reluctantly) to a few friends, trying to watch for signals that my mood was changing and heavily relying on Suchitra. It has been quite a slog, which I allowed very few to see. We tried to manage the ups and downs but the swings would not go away, and they were becoming frighteningly more severe. Things once again came to a head recently with a severe depressive episode. I had no choice but to seek help. As great as my wife, friends and family have been, I felt I couldn’t continue to lean on them, the toll was too much. I am also very good at hiding the true extent of what I am feeling and I still saw my swings as weakness and personal failure.
Men are often more closed than women in admitting weaknesses or seeking help when it comes to sensitive areas such as mental illness.
Reluctantly, I went back to the doctors. To be honest, I saw taking meds as the final straw, like giving up. I saw it as the weak option. I was used to succeeding and fighting for what I wanted but I have felt the strength to fight slowly leave me over the years and I thought that taking meds meant the fight was lost. I feared losing myself completely. Luckily the doctor I have ended up with is excellent, he is also not a fan of over prescribing meds and is very open to my queries making me more comfortable with my treatment. Anyway we have started on a new path, and together with my doctor and psychiatrist we are building a new plan that includes meds and is currently under construction.
Possibly the biggest change is my acceptance that this is a biological disorder and the assurance that it wasn’t something that I or anyone else did that caused me to have Bipolar.
I have it, there is no changing that. What I can change is how I live with it. Meds wise I am currently on anti depressants and a mood stabiliser which should hopefully help control the swings and make life more controllable. Another part of my therapy has been attempting to write down my thoughts and feelings, a journal to help me track my moods. Sometimes this is extremely difficult as thinking can be almost impossible during the extreme periods. However, it is proving to be a helpful tool.
I shall continue my journey with you by showing you a glimpse of mu journal.
This is a true account of a friend of mine who shared his experience with me and I have sought his permission to share it with a wider audience.
In order to protect his identity and that of people close to him, names have been changed.