2 thoughts on “A Molecular Biologist With Bipolar 1 Disorder by Samina Raza | Bipolar Disorder, First Person Essay

  1. I followed the link and read the whole essay. I think it is very brave to tell your story in this way and it has inspired me to continue my efforts to let go of the stigma and shame I have always felt for my own illness. The way you wrote about your brother Farooq was very touching. It appears that like myself, he developed his illness at a young age. In my case it is major depression that started when I was about 6 or 7. Then I got the bonus prize of psychosis when I was in high school. I know the fear and frustration and complete lack of understanding of what is happening inside one’s head as a child. Then add to that a child’s inability to explain what is wrong. How does one ask for help when one does not have the vocabulary or self-awareness to coherently say what is wrong. For me, what made it worse was that at the time it was commonly thought even by doctors that mental illness doesn’t occur in pre-teen children. As a result of the isolation, fear, and confusion, my first suicide attempt occurred when I was nine years old. It has been a lifelong struggle to not give in to the powerful urge to kill myself.

    Reading about the experiences of others has helped me put my own experiences in perspective and accept them as a major part of who I am. You wrote about family members who are also mentally ill. I would imagine that helped with the feelings of isolation. On the other hand, until less than a year ago I had never met another person who I knew was mentally ill. I was aware that it existed but I still felt completely alone. Since there was no mental illness in my family other than myself, and since there was no trauma or abuse in my childhood, I developed a strong belief that somehow my illness was my own fault. I stigmatized myself and considered my illness to be a result of weakness or some moral failing. This resulted in me working very hard to not let anyone find out about my illness, and difficulty with staying on my medication and keeping my therapy appointments. I would experience a crises, find a new doctor (I moved a lot), start getting stabilized, and then quit taking medication and quit going to the doctor until my next crises.

    I am also very impressed that you have gone to such a high level with your education and become a scientist. Unfortunately, I had to drop out of college three times because of mental breakdowns. As a result I am the only one in my family that doesn’t have a college degree even though I scored very high on the SAT exam. This has remained a source of shame and embarrassment for me. I failed completely at something that was supposed to be achievable. I am back in treatment and have found a good combination of meds for now. I have opened up to most of my family about my illness and have found much support from them. After a long discussion with my younger brother he concluded by saying, “I would tell you that I know how you feel, but we both know that I don’t have any understanding of how you feel so I will just say to keep doing what your doctor tells you to and I want you to know that you can call me anytime you want to talk about it.” It sounds like your family has been very supportive of you with regards to your illness, and I am beginning to understand just how comforting that is.

    Thank you for your candor and your inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I hear you and I understand it hasn’t been easy for you. I’m so glad you are with a doctor you trust and on medication that you are stable on. The early part of my illness was anything but stable or easy. Losing my brother was and is still the biggest tragedy that happened to my family. Yet I have, with the help of family and friends, cone through and now that I’ve been off SSRI’s I’ve been very stable for about one and a half years. So things are good! Please stay in touch. Thank you for sharing your story, I know each word could be expanded into a book. Healthy wishes for you.

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