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Elsabe Brits

When I woke up that morning in hospital, ten years ago, she stood there. The psychologist I started to see about three months prior to becoming manic for the first time. I went to see her, because deep inside myself it felt as if something was “not right”, but neither of us had any idea I has bipolar.

“Please help me, don’t leave me”, I said.

“I won’t leave you,” she said. “I am sorry that I did not realize what was happening.”

Three weeks later I was still in the hospital and still manic. Thoughts racing through my mind like a million trains. I wanted to speak in all the languages of the world, but had only one tongue. I never finished a sentence because the next one was already in my mind. When the psychiatrist told me I had bipolar mood disorder type I, I knew immediately it must be true. I saw myself in the symptoms. It is me.

I don’t think of myself as a “bipolar survivor.” I don’t downplay it, do I get up in the morning thinking “I am bipolar”. But I do recognize that I have a chronic illness.

Today it is ten yeas later and lots have happened (more about that later). But central to me being where I am today, apart from taking my medication religiously and accepting that I have a mood disorder which is a chemical illness of the brain, was and still is clinical psychotherapy.

Sometimes I get the feeling that clinical psychotherapy is compared to physiotherapy. You have a back pain, you go to the physiotherapist who treats the particular area and after six treatments you are cured. Not true when you have a psychiatric illness.

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