**Big Breath In**
So, it’s Bell’s Let’s Talk about Mental Health day #BellLetsTalk. One of my favourite days. Through work, I’m aware of a lot of mental health issues in our city that go undiagnosed until a third party gets involved – police, child welfare, concerned family members…
I am posting to let you, my friends and family, know I am the face of mental health disorder.
As many of you know, I have suffered from depression for many years, but last week I got a new diagnosis. I only told my daughter, mom and one girlfriend about it.
I am Bipolar II. This means I have very extreme depressive states and very extreme highs, but what makes me ‘Bipolar II’ and not ‘Bipolar or Bipolar I’ (aka Manic Depressive) is that my highs are not manic. That’s it. It’s a very fine line. High moments can come around once in a lifetime, once a year, once a week – there’s no definate timeline for either extreme.
Bipolar has been given such a bad name – I struggle with the label myself, but mostly with the label mood stabilizers has been given. The worries (from the stigma) of ‘will mood stabilizers take away my me-ness’ and ‘I don’t want to be an emotionless zombie’ do come forward and my solution is to talk, learn, listen, ask. In reality I know my ‘me-ness’ will forever shine through – breaking the stigma for myself is the first step.
I am still sitting with my diagnosis and weighing my options… mood stabilizers are what is most commonly prescribed for my Disorder. Do I? Don’t I? I will discuss with my doctor and determine what is the best option for me personally. Currently I am on 2 anti-depressants (last year was stellar for the depressive episodes). Whatever the choice, I will continue to see my psychologist as well as probable check-ins with my (new) psychiatrist.
This has been difficult for me to write and share… My hope is that those of you who think they don’t know what mental illness looks like will realize you’ve been socializing with it as long as you’ve known me. If you think you know someone may be suffering from a mental disorder, don’t ignore it! If you think YOU might be suffering from a mental disorder, talk to your doctor, a psychologist, or at the very least a friend who can help you make appointments or just talk through it with you.
PLEASE talk about mental illness. It doesn’t go away when ignored.
The following web page has much information about Bipolar Disorder. I’ve included an excerpt below. Please help me help you and all those we know by reading and sharing all information you learn.
“How can I help a friend or relative who has bipolar disorder?
If you know someone who has bipolar disorder, it affects you too. The first and most important thing you can do is help him or her get the right diagnosis and treatment. You may need to make the appointment and go with him or her to see the doctor. Encourage your loved one to stay in treatment.
To help a friend or relative, you can:
– Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement- Learn about bipolar disorder so you can understand what your friend or relative is experiencing- Talk to your friend or relative and listen carefully- Listen to feelings your friend or relative expresses-be understanding about situations that may trigger bipolar symptoms- Invite your friend or relative out for positive distractions, such as walks, outings, and other activities- Remind your friend or relative that, with time and treatment, he or she can get better.- Never ignore comments about your friend or relative harming himself or herself. Always report such comments to his or her therapist or doctor.”