I recently had the pleasure of connecting with some folks who live in other countries and write about bipolar – such as Vijay in Mumbai, India. Cool, no? Vijay is a very cool guy who took it upon himself to start an online community for those living with BP: Bipolar India: Let’s Walk Together. You can connect with Vijay here.
1. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks for this opportunity, Molly! I am an Author, Blogger and Personal Branding Coach. I am also very active in the Mental Health Awareness area. And of course, a Bipolar who is as happy as can be!
Note from Molly: Love it! If we all could be so lucky 🙂
2. What events led to you receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder?
I was diagnosed Bipolar in 2003 when I hit a manic peak/psychosis and was hospitalised for a week. Sadly, due to the utter lack of awareness in India, especially back then, my condition went undiagnosed for years prior to that.
If I had been diagnosed earlier, maybe the problem could have been nipped in the bud and it wouldn’t have hit me so hard.
3. If you don’t mind, can you share how old you were at the time of diagnosis and what type of bipolar illness you have i.e. Bipolar I Disorder (BP-1), Bipolar II Disorder (BP-2), Cyclothymic, etc.
Molly, I am open to all questions about my condition. I was 41 years old at that time. I experienced rapid cycling, hypomania for a couple of years which ballooned into full blown mania and psychosis.
The diagnosis then was Manic Depression. Only recently did my Doc tell me that my symptoms were of Bipolar II.
4. Do you have other diagnosed medical conditions besides bipolar (physical or mental)? For example, I have fibromyalgia and deal with chronic fatigue. I also have a form of subclinical hypothyroid. All of these have affected my bipolar states and when treated successfully my severe bipolar illness states (psychosis of mania, suicidal depression) improved much.
I am a chronic and acute asthmatic (in intensive care units of hospitals twice for near fatal attacks).
Yes, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue bugs me too, as does daytime sleepiness, hyperacidity and the skin ailment of Rosacea. I’m under treatment for asthma, chronic acidity and hypothyroidism.
Note from Molly: It is excellent that you (a male) have been tested and treated for a thyroid condition. In the U.S. it is primarily females that receive care, with most likely many male sufferers left untreated.
5. Now for the good stuff! What things – medications, vitamins, therapy, books, alternative treatments, etc. – have helped you to not only survive this difficult illness but thrive in your life?
Medication such as Mood Stabilisers have kept things on par. Antidepressants haven’t helped my depression much but they prevent me from going under!
In India we do not have the benefit of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) or group therapy sessions. Counseling helped me rationalize my thinking. Books and Workshops have been a great source of inspiration. I can never forget to mention the watchful attention of a great Psychiatrist and my doting family. I have also had the benefit of fabulous Mentors who have selflessly guided me on my journey.
I am a fitness conscious person and regular exercise helps regulate moods and boosts my energy levels too. Yoga and Pranayama have been of immense help too. However, the game changer has been Meditation, which I have now been practicing for 18 years. It connects me to my higher Self and is the source of my tranquility.
I am also a deeply spiritual person which allowed me to take a philosophical view of things. Opening up about my condition was empowering. The stigma and taboo attached to mental illness in India is stifling, much more than it is in the developed world. My outreach to our community through my website www.bipolarindia.com is a fulfilling experience.
6. What advice do you have for others who may be overwhelmed by the symptoms (hypomania leading to impulsive behaviour, rapid cycling mood changes, hospitalizations due to severe depressive episode or a manic episode resulting in psychosis…) and feel discouraged or without hope?
At such times advice rarely seems to help, does it? All the same, I’d say, hang on! There is no point in life you cannot turn around from! Life is too precious to be wasted away. Happiness is my birthright, as it is yours!
Excellent point Vijay – when someone is suffereing the extreme states of bipolar listening to others advice would not be on the radar and most likely not even welcome.
But reading hopeful thoughts and inspiring stories of others who have experienced the same – or worse – and come out the other side, still alive, and living their lives with purpose… is primarily what this series is about.
Stories of hope and survival that we can all hold onto and maybe pull out of the recesses of our psyches when a dark day, or time of severe illness hits.
Congrats on all your success and wellness, your website looks promising with some nice posts – I personally liked the resource section much!
Photograph courtesy of Vijay, all rights reserved.