A Survivor’s Account Of Mental Health & Suicide
“Today is World Mental Health Day.
And I will tell you all a part of my struggle. After my bipolar had worsened this year, I had to be admitted at a mental health care centre in Bengaluru. I was there for three months.
Apart from numerous injections, medicines, IVs, there were other forms of extremely painful treatment. After I got better, I joined my office again only to have a major breakdown again. I had to come home and soon I'll go to Bengaluru and join office once again. This time I pray I feel better.
But during this struggle I always had my doctors and therapists by my side. My office has been exceptionally supportive. I have a few but wonderful friends who were there for me no matter how I behaved or what I spoke. But the most important thing that I have learnt from all these is I have to love myself.
So dear all, please support people who are going through rough times because of various mental conditions. It takes only a little compassion to make things easier for those who are already fighting every second of their lives. If the stigma is done away with, then people like me will gain more strength to fight our issues.
Also, for those who are fighting their battles silently... know that you are not alone and you can reach out to me anytime. I am no expert but I promise to give a listening ear to your struggle.”
Brinda Das, a media professional working in Bengaluru, posted this on Facebook on October 10. The 27-year-old has been battling bipolar disorder for nine years.
It was in 2011, when owing to a series of episodes where she would get extremely angry and violent to people around her and then suffer phases of depression, Brinda’s mother suggested that she consult a psychiatrist.
She was living in Shillong and fortunately found a therapist who, after a series of mood tests, diagnosed her with bipolar disorder. Brinda would oscillate between feeling violent and depressed. She was given medication for it and slowly, Brinda found a way to understand her condition and manage her emotions better.
After a few years, however, she had to move to Bengaluru. From the peaceful lap of hills in Shillong, Brinda was transported to the hustle bustle of a busy metropolis and adjusting to it was difficult. “After coming to Bengaluru, I did not have a therapist and did not know whom to go to. It was then that a cousin suggested I try out Ramya Mental Health Care in Hebbal. That helped me quite a bit,” says Brinda.
In November 2016, Brinda got married. It was an arranged marriage and the groom and his family were informed about her condition. “My in-laws were supportive. Initially,” she says.
After marriage, however, Brinda’s husband found it difficult to understand the complications that she would face because of being bipolar and began to abuse her. “He would call me mad. Almost every day, he would return home drunk and abuse me, sometimes even physically. His behaviour made it really worse for me,” says Brinda.
She then tried to commit suicide. Multiple times.
“During my low phases, I feel so depressed that I feel I should not live anymore. I also hallucinate and get panic attacks. I keep seeing reflections of me — battered and bruised — around me. And although my therapist did give me some reading exercises to help me during panic attacks, when I am in that phase, I really cannot remember the instructions,” Brinda says.
“My husband took me to Spandana Rehabilitation Center. But over there I had a few really violent fits. At one such time, a doctor was talking to me trying to calm me down and I scratched her,” she adds.
Brinda stayed at the centre for three months and underwent several therapies, including electric shock therapy. “It was all quite painful,” she recalls. “The doctors here had consulted with my previous therapist in Shillong and they both agreed that I need to undergo it because I was getting really violent,” she says.
During her rehabilitation, her parents and her in-laws visited her. It was then that Brinda’s father-in-law told her that she was spoiling his son’s life and their family. “At that point, I began to seriously consider getting separated from my husband. And my parents have been supportive all along,” she says.
“After rehabilitation, my husband and I discussed going our ways and sometime after that, during one of my low phases, I ended up swallowing a bunch of pills and slashing my wrist. My husband had to rush me to a hospital where the staff told him that they have to register a police complaint first before beginning the treatment. I think he got a little scared that time,” says Brinda.
After recovering and after about two years of getting married, the couple separated. “Moving out was one of the best decisions I have ever taken,” she says.
Brinda then moved into a place by herself and even brought in “Fifi” — a hamster whom she adores. “Fifi is such a stress buster! Initially, I took up a lot of things such as playing the piano and new exercises to keep my feelings regulated, but none of it was as effective as Fifi and I ended up quitting them mid-way,” she says.
After facing the trauma that marriage brought to her, Brinda found her silver lining in a colleague. “We have been dating for five months and he really understands what bipolar disorder is all about and is extremely supportive. I am happy with him,” she says. She also says he helped her through the trauma of the process of separation.
To spread awareness on mental health, Brinda also posts updates on her social media profiles regarding her progress with controlling her condition. Recalling a therapy session a couple of weeks ago, she says, “It’s okay to not talk to anyone and behave awkward at times. I had almost nothing to talk about during my therapy session that day. I cannot have something new to talk during each session.
But my extremely wonderful therapist told me that it's okay to remain silent for silent is also another emotion. I am so grateful to have good doctors and therapists around me.”
In her happy space now, the bibliophile plans to read more and return to the hobbies that she had given up mid-way, and wants to resume learning to play the piano soon.
“It is important that we talk about mental health. It should be as easy to speak about it to others as our physical health. I hope my story helps those who have been struggling with it seek help, or at least speak up,” she says.