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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 2:34 AM (IST)

Fighting a lonely battle, with a little help

A bipolar disorder survivor recalls her struggles and triumphs, and answers the pertinent question: “Why me?”

Ashima Sehajpal Batish

Godmen and their godliness is a running joke in Aarti’s* family. Seven years back, she felt like god too. God, who was allocated the responsibility to clean the world. She would instinctively pick up the broom to sweep the floor or the lawn of her hostel. A day before third-year engineering semester exam, she was in the grip of the thought again. An obsession so strong that she became oblivious of the reality and took to the lawns with a vengeance. Her worried friends called up her parents, who too realised in no time that there was something askew. 

Diagnosis of bipolar disorder followed the visit to a psychiatrist. Left without a choice, she had to take a six-month break. Therapies, medicines and attending support groups helped. “At support groups, as people shared their experiences, I figured out a common symptom of bipolar disorder was feeling like god, like one who could change the world.” Hence the joke!

Bipolar is the coexistence of two conditions — depression and mania. “I was able to handle depression, but mania engulfed me and my confidence.” Rest of the damage was done by the apathy of many around. “My condition gave me lessons for life. I learnt that not everyone is the right person to confide in and not everyone has the right to know about my mental condition.” She realised it after confiding in a friend in college, who publicly started calling her bipolar.   

We still aren’t a mature society. We might readily empathise with the physical condition of sufferers, but conveniently neglect a mental issue. “Or worse, if it is acknowledged, the person is tagged as a mental wreck, gone astray for good.” She adds that support from the core group, that includes parents and close friends is enough to overcome the disorder. 

In between, she shifted to Bengaluru to work in an IT firm, and there too she confided in a friend. “You need someone to pull you out of a delusion whenever you drift on a wrong track.” 

Now a software developer with an MNC in Ludhiana, Aarti has emerged stronger and more confident. It took hard work and perseverance to develop a better understanding of the self.  Yet, many a time, even after all these years, she still questions —“Why me?” She has the answer to this as well — it can be anyone, it can be an entrepreneur, an engineer, a student, a founder of an NGO... all of whom are in the support group she is the member of. She emphasises that acceptance is always the first step towards treatment. 

In bipolar disorder, one fights one’s own battle and Aarti knows it well. She just hopes that when one is low, there are people around to cheer one up. “Do not use the term depression loosely.” The way it is conveniently used. “Being sad is one thing, depressed is another. These are so different. One is a temporary emotion. The latter can be suicide provoking.” And the latter definitely needs treatment. 

(* All names have been changed) 


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