Finding purpose in a life with bipolar disorder and various other mental diseases is not easy. I had no aim in life. I was born, grew up under the shelter of my parents like every other normal kid, and then was suddenly pushed into the real world when my mother passed away.
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Tannika Majumdar Batra
I’m a girl who has been trapped in a nightmare for the last twelve years. I have bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My drowning in despair started when my mother passed away in 2004.
The diseases were already in my brain, they just needed a push. My mother's death was that push.
To the girl who told me I was beautiful, so what do I have to be depressed about?
I remember one time that I shared a personal story about depression on my Facebook page. This was one girl’s comment on the story:
“Please don't share such things on Facebook. You are beautiful and talented, so do you need to share these stories?”
My father was a man of very few words. The only exceptions were hilarious dad jokes and long conversations with my mother -- conversations that looked so pretty that I wished to have some like them in my life.
Since he didn’t talk much, I can't start with a quote of wisdom from my father since I have never heard him say something about life, love, or other things in life that I could use as a paramount starting point.
When I wrote about my bipolar disorder, anxiety and PTSD, I thought it was the hardest thing I did. But now I realise that what I’m writing about today is the hardest thing I have ever done. The only reason this has taken me so long is the same reason why I kept quiet about my illness in the first place: opinions of others, judgment from others. Others who apparently don't matter, but somehow still serve as a barrier between us and the world.
Have you ever been so afraid of tripping that you couldn't take a flight of stairs, even though something like that would never happen? This is the stage setting for my anxiety disorder. I have written about my bipolar disorder a lot of times, but my anxiety didn't let me write about my anxiety. I stand in front of the staircase, unnerved, not being able to move an inch because I am afraid I would trip and fall.
We have seen a lot of movies that put the spotlight on mental illness. Movies like "Girl, Interrupted," "Prozac Nation," "Rain man" and very recently, "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Infinite Polar Bear," to name a few. These movies portray what it is like to have mental illness.
Lately, the important issue of mental illness has made it to the small screen, too. "Orange is the New Black," "You’re the Worst" and "Lady Dynamite," to name a few, are shows dealing with schizophrenia, clinical depression, dysthymia and bipolar disorder quite perfectly.
There's a reason many of us have trouble sharing our personal battles with mental illness. The reason is the label our society has put on mental health; that anyone who visits a mental health specialist is “crazy," or “insane." Mental illness is treated as a passing phase or a hedonistic lifestyle here in India.
After 11 years of suffering quietly, I resolved to speak out about something most of us decide is a secret to take to their early graves. For years, decades, lifetimes of silence makes the thing nonexistent to the world. The only reason for this silence is the fear of judgment — from loved ones, friends, relatives —people who matter, and also, people who don’t.
But Professor Dumbledore is right, as always: “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
Tannika is 32 years old and a freelance interior designer living in Kolkata, India, with her husband and brother as her support system. Fighting bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and PTSD since her mother died when she was 20, she now shares her story and her experiences with mental illness in hopes of reaching out to others and helping them share their stories on her website www.hopeisgood.in, spreading mental health awareness. She hopes her experiences with bipolar disorder will help others cope with their illness.