Monday, June 27, 2022 | Dhu al-Qaadah 27, 1443 H
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Living with bipolar disorder

The mood shift is like a swinging pendulum, going from one extreme to another. This psychological condition is called bipolar disorder. However, there is more to it than just a mood swing.

“My relative was always pleasant, but we did not realise the extent of her suffering until it was too late,” said Pamela Vaz.

Then again, in another person, the symptoms only showed up when she was in her 70s.

“Bipolar is a form of mental illness that usually affects younger people. They experience mood swings. At a time, they feel very excited, they can get into too many thoughts, and some of their projects are undoable or too complicated,” Dr Hamed al Sinawi, senior psychiatrist, explained.

People suffering from bipolar disorder tend to feel full energy, and they do not feel the need to sleep.

According to Dr Hamed, another issue with them is that they are too talkative. They tend to speak a lot alerting others that there might be something wrong; they might eat less; may not necessarily be happy but sometimes they become irritable and get into conflicts because they can be very aggressive.

Badr was 38 years old when his bipolar disorder symptoms emerged. Today he wants people to be aware of this disorder.

He remembered the early days, “During that week, I was going through a lot of changes. It came as a shock. I had lost job. I had a big fight with my business partner. At the same time, I had been reading various religious books. All of it together left me confused,” he remembered.

“I was talking continuously. I was talking about the judgement day and that I was an awakened one. I would even say things like if people wanted to survive, they would have to come to my house. It was shocking to my whole family. They eventually called an ambulance and took me to the hospital. It took me a while to accept that I have bipolar disorder,” he said.

It was the acceptance that made the difference, but there were more elements.

“I accepted the treatment eventually. I also read a lot about bipolar disorder. I was tired throughout the day, and very slowly, I accepted it,” he noted.

So finally, what helped the most - medication or psychotherapy?

“I think it is a combination of counselling and medication as well as understanding the disorder.”

Was it easy for Badr to bounce back after the treatment, or did he have to face stigma?

He replied, “Actually my family kept it to themselves and handled it well. I had a lot of support from my wife, my mother, and my brothers and sisters. So the family support helped in a major way.”

According to Badr, it is more of a mindset and changing it helped. He has been guided to practise physical exercises and take long walks, making him feel good.

“I now work for a company that is aware of my condition. They have accepted me,” said a content Badr who has moved on in life.

Dr Hamed pointed out that it is important to highlight personal experiences, and Badr is brave to share his experience because it lets others know and realise that people can live well even if they are diagnosed with bipolar disorder because of medication, psychotherapy, and family support all help. They assist the patients in regaining their confidence to continue living.

On the other hand, many people do not know they have bipolar because the symptoms are mild.

“Sometimes people think the reason is something else as magic or ‘hassad’ (evil eye) or other cultural definitions. But in my opinion, many people with bipolar can live a quality life. The key is getting the right diagnosis, being medication compliant and following up with the therapy.”

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