Stigmatization of People with Mental Disorders

"Stigmatization of people with mental disorders is manifested by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance. Stigma leads the (public) to avoid people with mental disorders. It reduces access to resources and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters
the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for care. Stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society."

--U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher (ret.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mania Comes to Call

The first phase of mania is intoxicating and euphoric. I was confident and super-humanly productive today…I felt joyous as an indefatigable energy pumped through my veins. At first I was infallible, but as the thoughts jetted faster and faster through my brain, I began to notice small errors and somewhat poor decisions. Now I am at mach one and am fighting the agitation that is interfering with my ability to focus. I know the course…agitation will exacerbate into rage and if I don’t find the brakes, the mania will threaten my well-being.

I know what to do. I should reach out for a calming hand, but I hide it from those who have signed on for this erratic journey. I should take the medications that will slow me (and dumb me) down. Sounds simple, but when you spend a large portion of your days incapacitated by black depression, it’s hard to let go of the rush. I lie to myself and say I’ll be OK, I’m just excited. Look at everything I accomplished today. Who can I call to talk to…or, more accurately, talk at, as the thoughts race through my brain? Let’s email. Let’s Facebook. Let’s write a significant essay. Let’s clean the bathroom and wash four loads of clothes. Let’s get dressed up and go out for a drink. STOP! “Danger, danger, Will Robinson.”

After years of suffering and repeated hospitalizations, I was finally correctly diagnosed as a rapid-cycling bipolar 1 at the age of 49. It has taken seven years for me to truly know the beast and to find a successful medical management plan. I lost a successful career, most of my friends, and almost lost my life on several occasions. I am my worst enemy and my best ally…It’s my choice to make.

So I’ve fought the urges and taken meds to stop the fast-moving train. I will get much-needed sleep tonight and wake up a little lower on the mood grid tomorrow. If not, I’ll call my doctor and alert those closest to me. I have a responsibility in managing this illness and the pleasure is not worth the pain…I will not let this illness beat me.