Author: Trishna Patnaik written on behalf of Mr. Pradeep Kumar Pattnaik
When we talk about a mental illness, we look at it clinically. Is it absolutely clinical and practical though? Have we looked at it from the eyes of the person who is going through the pain and living with the disorder? I have seen suffering from Bipolar Disorder for the longest time and living with it till date. I am a middle aged man in my mid fifties.
Bipolar Disorder has a genetic component along with certain environmental factors that a person gets exposed to.
I was just like any normal child, among my 6 siblings including me. That was not the case in reality. I had certain behavioural concerns when it came to my competence levels and my temperament which went unnoticed by my parents.
It reached its peak and came to notice when I was about 20 years old, about the same time when most mental illnesses are diagnosed.
I ran away from home abruptly one morning, the time I had my first manic episode and my family took notice of my outburst in the form of mania.
I was gone for hours together and then finally they located me in a collage campus where I was giving a motivational speech on how to excel in life to college students. I am a college dropout and addressing a crowd of almost 5000 people made me feel connected to them and relive my college days.
My entire aura had magnified into a gregarious being which was beyond control. My two elder siblings decided to take me to a psychiatrist. My medical assessment confirmed that I had Bipolar disorder and I needed medical intervention and assistance immediately. This was something we had never heard of and were explained further by the psychiatrist.
This made the two siblings revisit the scenarios in which I had also had several depressive episodes too during my teenage years where I would keep lying down in the bed for hours together and then crying uncontrollably. I would also be very crabby in general and argue with people over small things.
This was seen as laziness by my parents and a lack of will to perform any of the tasks considering all the other kids in the household were finding their way through.
Now everyone understood how I oscillated between the manic and the depressive phases from time to time considering they did not know the correct terms then or for that matter what I was dealing with due to lack of general awareness.
This is where correct parenting style; the nurture aspect plays such an important role. The person will suffer all the more if correct parenting plus support is not instilled. Along with that the peer group and friend circle makes a huge difference too. They are definitely one of the precursors to attract substance abuse into one’s lifestyle. Addiction of any form is bad in general and more so for a person with Bipolar Disorder. I was lucky enough to find the correct treatment before it was too late.
The psychiatrist suggested the family about immediate intervention and to put me under shock treatment that is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or shock therapy and then followed it up with oral and injection medication. I did not need shock therapy sessions after a couple of sessions, though I have to live with medication and injections as a lifelong thing. I had to be my own doctor and support system for years to come.
I was given prescribed medication to calm myself during my manic episode so that I would not burst with too much excitement and a need for constant stimulation. I was even given medication to ensure a proper sleeping pattern and normalize my volatile reactions during my depressive phase. This sort of high dosage medication has made me gain a lot of weight which I have to cope with.
My siblings encouraged me to share a life with someone, shoulder responsibility and move forward. Eventually I did marry a person who understood my condition well. I have a beautiful son from the marriage who is completely sound both mentally and physically. He is pursuing his MBA in Agriculture Business Management.
I am financially supported by my siblings living in various metropolitan cities of India. I am living in a remote village of India and I am a well-known and highly connected farmer. I am told that I am social person and I am always seen smiling.
What I find commendable in my case is that even after been a person from the grassroots’ level the disease was diagnosed and preventive action was taken. There was no denial when it came to addressing it from the family side and no shame in accepting it from the patient side.
We all have collectively built on our awareness as a family and I have been supported and accepted by all the near and dear ones. I believe that I have survived the disease in a beautiful way. Of course there are times when I do go berserk.
Till date sometimes during my manic episodes; I may feel an emotional high. I can feel excited, impulsive and euphoric. I may also engage in behaviour such as: Enter a spending spree, urge to have alcohol and ‘gutka’ addiction.
During an episode of depression I may experience: deep sadness, withdrawal, hopelessness, loss of energy, lack of interest in activities I usually enjoy, periods of too little or too much sleep.
I have learnt to befriend my mind as much as I can. I am living with a smile on my face with my family and friends on my side.
So let’s not shy away from a mental illness and let’s not shun away the people who go through with it. Let’s coexist and give everyone a fair chance, as anyone suffering from a mental disorder deserves to live a holistic as they are full-fledged willing to fight the disease, survive it and coexist with it.