Hope for Mental Health

 A mental illness is not who you are, it is something that you simply have, so remember that there is always a glint of hope in the darkest of places.
Photo Attribution: 
provided by Andrea Paquette

My good friend Natasha, professional mental health writer from www.natashatracy.com, has inspired me to share today’s topic.  Even though treatments may not work consistently, there is always hope for patients.  I have had bipolar disorder since the day I was born but I didn’t start exuding symptoms until the age of 26, so I have been dealing with a mental illness for nearly 10 years.  As I reflect on my medical history I have come to accept that with any mental illness, it is only manageable to a point.  There are limitations on what one can do to stay well and there are also barriers on what the doctor can do to help.  This may sound discouraging, however, I feel that it is important to recognize that there is a difference between managing your illness and curing it.  As you may know, a mental illness is not curable, despite what anti-psychiatric proponents would argue, but realistically  we have to face that we may be ill for periods of time during our lifetime.

I am Executive Director for the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC, also known as Bipolar Babe in the community and even though I work a jam packed schedule balancing my career between the non-profit world and the government sector, there are times when I am deeply and severely affected by my mental illness.  An interesting but unfortunate truth is that I often experience mild symptoms of psychosis.  The lights double over and glare so brightly that I am barely able to cope in the world.  My senses become extremely heightened and affect my ability to experience my surroundings in a ‘normal’ and stable way.  I exude intense paranoia and it feels beyond awkward to be around people, it actually feels horrendously uncomfortable.  Only days ago I dove into a deep sea of hallucinations where my pillow appeared patterned with roses and twigs and the creases in my blanket were swallowed up by snakes.  I can usually sleep off the psychotic symptoms but in this case I could not rest as I was bombarded by hopelessness.

Even though I am medicated and have a team of professionals tending to my care, I still get sick.  People become immune to medications and tweaks are often necessary, which can be frustrating, but in the long term we have to trust that at any turn we may just feel stable again.  People often live in fear of their mental illness and it is common to experience discouragement and mental torture when things are not working out as you had planned, but you can’t give up.  It is vital to always anticipate that there may be a treatment out there that may work for you.  Don’t live in fear, don’t succumb, and never think that you are a hopeless case.  I felt fantastic yesterday and today is even better and I perceive this to be a big win.  I was able to increase my anti-psychotic medication and I also took several steps to stay well.  I am thankful that I don’t always feel sick and there are days when things reflect sweet perfection. 

If you are interested in reading more please visit my BLOG at www.bipolarbabe.com to educate yourself on mental health issues and begin to form your own hopefulness.  A mental illness is not who you are, it is something that you simply have, so remember that there is always a glint of hope in the darkest of places.

Andrea Paquette AKA Bipolar Babe

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