Tuesday, 24 July 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # Part III

A friend of mine recently wrote to me on Facebook as to what was my next career move: he happens to follow this Blog. I'd promised him I would be posting about it soon.

It was the summer of 2003, the month of May, to be precise.

One fine day I had the carpet literally pulled from under my feet..

It must have all begun years ago but culminated on that day. My sister had been noticing and pointing out to my abrupt change in behaviour: irrationality, incoherence and excessive irritability. Problem was, neither was I nor anyone else in a mood to listen to her.

This went on for a while until one day she got the support of one of our friends from the Housing complex. Of course, he thought all I needed was a consultation with a Psychologist who would calm down my nerves.

With a lot of cajoling I agreed to meet the Doctor. We were joined on the visit by my concerned uncle and cousin sister. They too were alarmed by my incessant talking without making any sense. I must have talked non-stop during the journey and while in the waiting area at the Doctor's.

I had a heightened sense of predicting things: I clearly remember a lady asking for some help with her Mobile phone and me cutting off my guidance to her midway: 'It is 1 pm, I'll be called in, I told her.' Guess what, the buzzer rang at that precise moment!

After listening to my rambling for a minute, the lady Psychologist said to my sister, 'look, he needs to be taken to a Psychiatrist right away'. That's precisely what my wise sister had been concerned about all this while.

She resourcefully located the telephone number of a well known Psychiatrist in the Suburbs and fixed up an urgent appointment. My rambling which was getting even more out of hand, continued at his clinic. It stopped only when I collapsed and slumped on the Doc's desk.

One assessment is all he required to diagnose the problem:
Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder). 

Immediate Hospitalisation was necessary.

By now, my Uncle, just recovering from a Heart surgery was exhausted (the stress hadn't helped one bit) and my Sister excused them all and took charge alone. She had a harrowing time admitting me to Hospital because I was extremely irritable and impatient.

On the first visit my Doctor asked her what medication was I onto. She showed him my Medicine box which contained besides my Asthma inhalers and a Strip of tablets.

He furiously discarded that strip saying it was the cause of me tripping into a stage of Mania: it was an Anti-Depressant (Upper) prescribed by my physician. After great cajoling I was allowed a regular room (not in the Psychiatric Ward). This was on the reassurance of my sister that I'd never harmed anyone and that she would be constantly be my side.

The Dark Era began. The week at Hospital was one of those experiences. I wonder how my Sister managed to pull it off so magnificently under all the pressure. Remember, she had to attend to our Business work and calls at the same time. My unreasonable attitude didn't help matters. The Nurses there approached me hesitantly. Was I imagining them talking about me?

The fears started creeping in. I swapped my Patient's bed with her Visitor's smaller one: Why? I had the gnawing fear I was falling off it!!

As regained my senses a bit after a few days it started hitting me more. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME!

The immediate concern was the Business where my credibility was at stake. My future appeared hazy. All those business loans, commitments.. Under the Doc's orders all the cheques were to be signed by Sis (I wasn't allowed to).

Post discharge, matters did not improve much. My state at that time: Restless, anxious and very irritable: noticeably so.

The visits to the Doctor were disappointing: The dreaded verdict: Bipolar is an incurable condition which might need indefinite treatment. Always having been a person comfortable with being in control, this didn't sound good at all.

History shows, many creative geniuses and celebrities have been afflicted by this dreaded condition, many having lived tormented lives.. Some have harmed themselves, others ended their lives..

It has been a troubled journey of a decade since then, getting brighter and brighter.

It wasn't hunky-dory all through. The unpredictable (at times extreme) Mood Swings, Lack of enthusiasm and energy at most times, Drug induced daytime sleepiness, utter lack of motivation can tear anyone apart.

Whenever I was feeling better I beamed and told my Doc, I'd resolved that I'd never slip into that morass again. Doc used to (rightly, from the Medical point of view) pour cold water over my determination: 'You can never be sure'.

One hears of seeing the Light at the end of the Tunnel,

At least one makes headway in a tunnel..
My condition was more akin to being in a dark well on a moonless night, with the day being a dull overcast one..
The hopelessness makes recovery difficult.

My career was affected quite a lot. I had sought clarity from my Doc whether my profession would be affected (especially from my Clients' perspective). For once I was assured that this was condition was at an emotional level and my logical thinking ability would be as fine as ever.
So how did I turn things around? I have always been following the regimen prescribed: Meditation, Yoga, Exercise and Medication with fluctuating success.

The turning point came on my reading the Bhagvad Geeta. The philosophical look at the suffering a human being goes through in life, the reasons behind them and above all the answers to Who am I, my connect with God.

My regularly reading it brought in a sense of peace and ups in downs were easier for me to handle. It's come to a stage where I can take in the biggest challenge with equanimity.

The Spiritual grounding has been my biggest friend, besides my supportive family and friends of course. The single BIGGEST Factor has been a change in my attitude: If I have ably faced these traumatic events and come out shining so often, why worry about the future? I say to God, you tested my mettle to make me stronger, I'm prepared for everything you throw on my path.

The biggest sign came a month ago. I was to visit my Doc and tried to locate his file. To my consternation after searching every nook and corner of the house I couldn't locate it. It was the only record I had of the illness beginning with the Hospitalisation. Since I'm quite methodical, I was flustered for a while.

I thought about it for a while and said to myself, its maybe time to bid Bipolar goodbye..

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