“I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder for more than 5 years ago.
I was initially diagnosed with Depression. This was after the time I was raped when I was studying for Masters in Counselling in the United States. Later on, when I lost both of my parents, I thought of wanting to join them. I realised I needed help. After I was diagnosed with depression, I returned back to Malaysia. Initially, it was depression still. But in 2009, a psychiatrist diagnosed me as having bipolar disorder instead.
Whenever I was bipolar, I had a delusion that I am just a burden to my family and I felt depressed most of the time. Sometimes, I would shop and spend thousands of dollars per day. It’s money that I don’t have, so I was maxing out credit cards. When I was shopping, it was pleasurable. But the feeling of guilt after I was done shopping was pretty bad.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. I personally have experienced suicidal thoughts both before and after my diagnosis. When I first had suicidal thoughts, I went to the counseling center and the counselor felt that I needed a psychological evaluation. They decided to send me to the mental ward of a hospital, where I was accompanied by the police. I was put under a 72-hour hold. When I had suicidal thoughts again after, I reported myself to the mental ward and I was hospitalised. Whenever I had these thoughts, I didn’t have specific plans. All I knew was that I felt hopeless and I wanted to die.
There are several outlets where we can seek for help. I sought for help both in the States and in Malaysia. When I was in the States, I went for counseling. They also had a partial hospitalization programme (PHP) where they provided dialectical behaviour therapy, but I only attended for a while before my father brought me back home.
Currently, I have been undergoing psychodynamic psychotherapy with a private psychologist. It costs RM 200 per month for consultation and RM 800 per month for the medication (Abilify Maintena injection). On top of that, I also take another medication called Pristiq, this costs RM 400. This is also purchased per month, but I’m only supposed to take this for a while.
What we as the public can do is to provide support, because it’s hard enough to fight the battle alone. We need to understand that mental illness patients are not crazy, they are not violent. I think people are afraid to talk about mental health because it’s not talked about openly. If someone comes up to you saying they are having suicidal thoughts or if you yourself are having suicidal thoughts, you should definitely encourage the need to see a psychiatrist. There should also be greater public awareness of other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.
I hope that more can be done to solve the financial concern that comes with getting help for our mental health. Not everyone is able to afford treatment. My hope is that something can be done about that, maybe insurance that can provide for treatments.”
Photostory by Maxy
Edited by Win Li