And One Day I Too Was Among The Mentally Ill

depressionBeing an introvert from childhood, I always had only one or two friends. I was teased by other children in school and the neighborhood, which made me more introvert. I became more and more engrossed in my studies. I always stood first in the class throughout. Books were my friends. That’s the reason I studied library science after graduation and earned a masters’ degree in Library & Information Science and got a secure government job.

My story starts from the year 2000, with a very stressful life event of my life, when I was diagnosed with Rheumatic Heart Disease, where one of my four heart valves – Mitral valve started leaking. Unable to cope up with this drastic change in my life, my behavior changed. I could not sleep in the nights, went into deep depression and then suddenly into mania.

My physical health was deteriorating, and I was advised to go for MVR surgery at Escorts Hospital, Delhi. This was in April 2001. At the same time, my mental illness treatment was going on. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with schizophrenia. I came back home, cured of a heart problem. While I was advised to take medicines for heart lifelong, the treatment for my mental problem was stopped by my family as my behavior became normal. This was the first phase.

The second phase came into my life in the year 2002, when my younger sister became engaged for marriage. Being five years elder to her, this was a stressful situation for me. On the other side, my family wanted to find a match for me without telling them about my heart surgery and I did not want to start my life with a lie. Unable to cope up with this stressful condition, my behavior changed. Somehow the marriage did not happen. Again I was taken to the same psychiatrist as she has cured me during my earlier phase. This time, it was hypomania.

depressionThe third phase came into my life in 2003, which again was very demanding one, when my younger sister and I were getting married, within a gap of 6 days only and my mother was recovering from her heart valve replacement surgery. She had Aortic Stenosis and was operated upon only three months ago. The excitement of sister’s marriage, not so well mother and a much-awaited marriage of my own, took its toll, and lack of sleep started showing its effect on me. I again became manic and depressed alternatively (rapid-cycling). The treatment started from the same psychiatrist. Against the wish of my family, I told my fiancé about my surgery. He said that he has no problem but not to tell his family about my surgery. I went to my husband’s home in the same mental condition. Starting adjustment problems in a new home and new responsibilities created lot of misunderstandings among my family and in-laws. Slowly this phase also subsided.

When a baby came into my life in 2011, the fourth phase started. Sleepless nights, taking care of the newborn baby, fatigue, all of these triggered another episode. This time, I was taken to a new psychiatrist, who diagnosed me with Bipolar disorder and the treatment started. But after I became normal, the treatment was stopped.

In 2013, I started feeling depressed. Without any reason, I used to cry where ever I was- in the office, at home, while talking on the phone. This time, I took the reins of my life into my hands and searched for a good psychiatrist nearby and started my treatment. The doctor took some tests to confirm the disorder and started giving me medicines and advised me to go for psychotherapy. I am following his treatment honestly and religiously and believe me that my quality of life has improved, and I can take care of my physical health, my family, my home, my office and my spiritual life also.

I take all my medicines daily (total 13 tablets and two capsules), out of which two tablets are for bipolar and rest for the heart, hypothyroidism, and scleroderma. I have two pill boxes which I fill once a week and keep taking my medicines with the help of a mobile app Medsafe (a pills reminder app).

I feel if I were rightly diagnosed at the very first phase, my life would have been much better years ago. But then there is destiny.

My message to those who are suffering from Bipolar can be summarized in these points:

  1. I find solace in meditation, yoga, and music.yoga
  2. I perceive problems as challenges and finding solutions gives a boost to my mental energy.
  3. I try to increase EQ (Emotional Quotient), without compromising with IQ (Intelligence Quotient). To an extent, I have controlled my anger.
  4. I have kept alive my sense of humor. I make fun of myself and make others laugh, but with me, not at me!
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    ~Riddhima Garg from NCR, is the Author of this post.
    She has courageously shared her story with us so that it may inspire others of our community.
    Thank you, Riddhima!
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