Entry #15: “Gastric” Attack

Few night ago, I was in a car with my sister’s family just cruising around the town cause I’m too depressed. Lately, I’ve been having this weird chest pain where I feel my chest being pressed really hard and I’m having difficulty to breathe. I never paid too much attention to it as I thought it was nothing. That night, when I was sitting calmly in my sister’s car, I started to feel the pain again, together with a massive headache. Every second, the pains getting more intense. So I requested that we drive back home.

As we on our way home, the pains make my head feels like spinning like crazy. I’m trying my best to keep in control because I feel like I’m about to passed out. The head pain remind me a lot of the headache that I had after having ECT. While the chest pain was getting more unbearable. I thought maybe I was dying. It feels like I was dying from all the pain.

As we reaches home, I asked my sister to help me to get from her car to my bed. I was dizzy and can’t walk properly. My niece and nephew was really scared when they saw me acting that way. I started to cry as I feel so hopeless and I’m freaking out. I don’t know what that was. I never experienced anything like that before.

When I reached my bed, the pains started to go away and I begin to feel calmer. However, the chest pain is still there. So, I just go to bed.

When I woke up, the chest pain is still there but less intense. So my sister forced me to go to clinic to get a doctor opinion. I refused but she insisted. When we were at the clinic, the doctor asked me to go to the emergency department at any hospital immediately. When we get there, they did few tests to see whether my heart is OK. I did some ECG, blood tests and XRay. After waiting for a long time, the doctor finally came and said nothing wrong with my heart. That was a relief. However, he suggested that it’s maybe a gastric pain acting up. I was like, seriously? I know gastric pain since I was 5, and that is not it? I feel extremely furious. Come on! Is that all you can get? Gastric pain? WTF!

So, to all medical doctors out there: I know getting a medical degree is extremely hard. But, just because you have a MD, it doesn’t mean you know everything. Nobody knows everything except God. If you don’t know anything, ask! Please! Do ask! That is how we learn. If you don’t have the answer, just be honest and don’t make an assumption. What you said will make a huge affect to someone life. Just because I had ECTs, it doesn’t mean I a retard.

Btw, I just had another “Gastric” attack an hour ago and I’m not hungry.

Entry #14: When It All Start

I don’t really remember when it all began. All I know I was 14 at the time. Since my mum was busy with work that year, I volunteer to stay at my school’s hostel, so my parent won’t go all the trouble to send me to school everyday.

I think that is when it all begin. I saw “ghost” for several times. Yes, at that time I do believe that I saw ghosts. I don’t know whether it is ghosts or not, but now I think it is just my halucinations. The “ghosts” was very clear and vivid. That was my first symptoms that I noticed. Then, there was polydipsia and polyuria. Which means extreme thirst and frequent urinations. At first, it wasn’t obvious.

OK, I know that it is not the symptoms of bipolar disorder, but I didn’t know the symptoms back then. Yes, I’m starting to feel depressed at that time. I spend all my free time at a school mosque. Just sitting there while holding a prayers book. I believed that time that it will take away my sadness. All the things that happening to me (sadness, halucinations, polydipsia and polyuria) was only the devil’s works, so I thought. Due to all that, I decided to leave the hostel. I don’t want to live at the school’s hostel anymore. Due to that, I got plenty of backlash from almost everyone, which added more to my depression.

A week after I leave the hostel, my grandma was admitted into a hospital’s ICU because she was unresponsive. I was first heard the news when I came back from school. When my mother told me the news, I felt that my heart been ripped out from my body, then stabbed repeatedly. This was the woman who have been there for me for all my life. I’m  much more closer to her than my own parent. That afternoon, she went into an emergency surgery on her brain. 

Since then, my depression become more obvious. I cried myself to sleep everyday. I refused to go to school because I don’t feel like leaving my bed. No one understand what happening to me. Not my family, not my school. To them, I’m just a lazy teenager that is trying to get away from going to school everyday. I have few major nervous breakdown, and yet, nobody think there is something wrong with me. And, don’t get me started with the school’s counsellor. He called me for a counselling session. I just cried during the whole session and he just sit there watching me cry without doing anything.

It wasn’t until I was 22 or 23 that I know I have a mental illness. I never knew what mental illness was before that. Now, 10 years later, I have tried plenty of medications, and it seems like none suit me well. That is why the last resort was ECT. Although I have mental illness, I always been the brain in the family. However, I’m also always been the socially awkward one in the family. And now, I’m ugly obese mentally ill person who’s a burden to my family.
P/S: My psychotherapist suggested that I end my blog entry with a bipolar quote. So here goes nothing.

I know it’s not a positive quote, but I just love this quote. This is what I’m going thru for the pass few months.

Entry #10: ¬†ECT’s Adverse Effects

It’s been weeks since I did ECT and I’m still regretting it. I’m still having difficulties in memory, disorientation and still suicidal. After some advice from my nephew’s paediatrician, I went to see a neurologist to seek some advice just to make sure there is nothing wrong with my brain. Mostly, to comfort my family, who’s really worried about me.

The neurologist was a very nice and polite person. He did asked about my mental illness, my medical history and my medications that I’m currently on. He then did some physical testes. I think he noticed my disorientation. Then he did a memory test on me. It’s a standardised memory test I guess.

I managed to aced few questions (although he did gave me few hints, I still count that as a success). I can’t remember my own birthday, which is a huge blow for me. I always remember the birthdays of my family members and friends. Then he asked me whether I’m OK in math. Proudly I said, I’m good in applied math and I’m currently doing my PhD is in Mechanical Engineering. Then he asked me some simple arithmetic questions. I didn’t remember the exact questions but it’s something like 7 plus 6 and 100 minus 9. I was stunned. My tears started to fall. I can’t believe I dont know the answers. I used to able do multiplication or division a number up to 5-7 digits to a few digits number mentally. And yet, I can’t do arithmetic. I can’t stop crying. I’m broken. Math is my pride and joy. I love math more than I love myself. But, I have failed!!!

Only God knows what I felt at that moment. The doctor tried to console me. After the session, he said the memory will come back, but he doesn’t know when exactly. I need to rest more and do more enjoyable things so my brain will heal faster and I won’t be too depressed. If not, I may need another round of ECTs. 

I may take a longer leave of absent from my studies, but my supervisor will leave this country end of this year. I don’t have the luxury of time at this moment. I did express my concern to my supervisor last week, but he was extremely supportive. He said take as much time to heal as needed as health comes first. Once I’m OK, then my dream to be successful will come true. I’m blessed to have them as my PhD supervisor. And I’m blessed to have my family and friends. Only God can repay what they have done for me. If any of you are reading this, thank you!

Entry #9: Stress vs Mental Illness

Most people seems like don’t have idea what is stress and what is mental illness. If in mechanics or physics, stress is a pressure or tension that exerts on a physical material. For example, pushing a button. The pushing action causing stress on the physical material which is the button in this case. In psychological, stress is the feeling of pressure or strain that is caused by some demanding or overwhelming situation. Psychological stress can be good and sometimes can be bad. Depend on how does the person handle the situation.

Psychological stress can be reduced by doing some steps such as live a healthy life, avoid confrontation, have enough stress, be active and many more.

What about mental illness? It is a chemical imbalance in a person brain that may or may not triggered by a stressful situation. The stressful situation is just a trigger. Without the situation, if someone have a chemical imbalance in his/her brain, mental illness is a certainty. 

There are a lot misconceptions and stigma on mental illness. Some “clever” people think that mental illness can be cured by relaxing or praying or whatever crap that people without knowledge on the subject matter can think about to be superior and clever to other people. What most people don’t understand is there are little difference between mental and physical illness. Both illnesses are beyond our control. Both type of illnesses require medical assistance. However people never think mental illness is a serious thing. At least not until that person with mental illness began to act “crazy”.

As you know, I have a mental illness called bipolar disorder. What is it? It’s a mood disorder, where the sufferer will alternate between very high mood (which called mania episode) and very low mood (which called as depressive episode). Each episode lasted for months. In mania episode, the sufferer will have very high energy and very impulsive.. It’s not like someone just drink an energy drink, but very energetic. I am a morbidly obese person, but once during my manic episode, I was climbing (more like running) 4 flight of stairs. And you know what, I didn’t feel a thing. Why did I do that? Until today, I have no idea. In another different situation, I was about to jump from level 5 of a building because I was convinced that I have a flying superpower. I was about to jump, until I realised that I’m scare of high. It may sound stupid, but it saved my life.

Now, depression is another different situation compared to mania. Remember that I told you about stress? Depression is way worst. Although my illness is bipolar, but most of the time, I’m having depression episode. If mania you have ridiculously amount of energy, in depression, you have almost none energy at all. You will hate yourself, you will hate single little everything.

I can go on and on about manic and depressive episodes, but I want to differentiate between stress and mental illness. Stress doesn’t need medications but mental illness must take medications in order to function. I hate it when people making some idiotic statement that just relax, or pray, or do some fun activities, and the mental illness will go away. How stupid can you be. If someone have a broken leg, why didn’t you suggest them to walk it of? Why there is double standards between physical and mental illness? The stigma against mental illness doesn’t help the person with the illness. Why there is sympathy to people with physical illness, but not to people with mental illness? Please be fair to us. We need your support, not your irrational judgment.