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Consumer Interview

*Age*

44

Gender

Female

**Diagnosis**

Bipolar Disorder

At what age were you diagnosed with the bipolar disorder? 

34

Have you gotten better or worse? 

I feel that I have gotten worse.
If you've gotten worse, what do you feel made you worse? 

My illness seems to be getting worse as time goes on. Having to give up my career has done a great deal of damage to my self-esteem. The third area that has presented problems over the years has been the medication and the "many" side-effects.

Has medication helped? 

Medication has helped extreme depression but it leaves me in a low level depression and my highs are "dulled-out" states. Also the many side-effects to the medication contributes to the problems I already have.

*What advice would you like to give to others who are suffering from your same illness('s)? 

Seek early intervention, if the psychiatrist is someone that you don't trust you have the right (and responsibility) to find someone that you can work with. Educate yourself about your illness. It is important that you have this knowledge so that you can work with your doctor.

Have you ever felt stigmatized due to having the BPD and/or bipolar disorder? Have you ever felt you have been looked down on or put down by others because you have the BPD and/or BP? Tell us about it. 

The greatest amount of stigma that I've ever seen has been at the Emergency Room in the hospital. No one (consumers or not) wants to go through the hell of ER. However, when it happens, doctors and nurses ignore you and "they seem" to hope that you'll just go away.

I'm writing from Newfoundland, Canada and at present there are two inquiries ongoing into the shooting deaths of two mental health consumers. Both men were suicidal, and one of them had even called the local hospital - in both cases, the police were sent and they ended shooting the consumers. One confrontation with police lasted less than 13 minutes and the other less than 30 minutes. [Although I did not know these men personally, I am greatly disturbed (paranoid even) about having contact with police.]

What do you know now that you wish you would have known long ago? 

I wish that I had known that I had a treatable illness. I might not have completely burned myself out with the pretense of being 'normal'.

How have has this disorder interfered in your life? Which areas? 

I have had to leave my career as a guidance counselor which is one of the worst decisions I have ever had to make. My former colleagues don't know how to deal with my illness so most of my friends now are fellow consumers. Another area is with my family - this illness is too embarrassing to talk about.

* What does it feel like to have your disorder? 

Hell on earth!

*Have you ever felt seriously suicidal? How many times? What got you through that (those times)? 

I have had periods of depression as early as 11 years old - so the number of occasions when I have felt suicidal are too numerous too count. In some cases the only thing that helped me was pure luck.

Person's Story - "Kelly"


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