How to Identify and Support Persons with Bipolar Disorder

Story by Namazzi Benjalina

Bipolar is a mental disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. The exact cause of bipolar isn’t known however it’s a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure. This is a very sensitive topic because many people do not know a lot about it and the victims are stigmatized knowingly or unknowingly. I would like to enlighten you on the topic for those that already know and those that do not this is the perfect time for you to know about it.

A medical diagnosis of this mental illness is manic episodes such as high energy, reduced need for sleep, and loss of touch with reality. Depressive episodes may include symptoms such as low energy, low motivation, and loss of interest in daily activities. Mood episodes last days to months at a time and may also be associated with suicidal thoughts. Bipolar cannot be cured but can be treated.

This month happens to be the month in which world bipolar day is celebrated making this a very relevant and important story. World Bipolar Day is celebrated globally every year on the 30th of March. Its aim is to bring awareness to bipolar disorder. This date was chosen because it’s Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday and this man was a famous Dutch painter that is believed to have had bipolar. The color for the bipolar ribbon is black with white stripes.

These are the opinions of the powerful ladies under the Heart2Heart chat in regards to Bipolar;

Photo by Joshua Mugisha.

Angela Kamugasa Nsimbi

Angela Kamugasa Nsimbi is a mother of five, wife, journalist, mental health advocate, and author that suffered from bipolar disorder. I was able to have a brief chat with her via the telephone about bipolar and this is what she said. “Having bipolar shouldn’t define you but instead be seen as a trying moment that you have to come out of victorious.” So many people label bipolar patients as mad people and this is not right and this is the most stigma that people with bipolar face. Simply treat them as your equals and when they feel comfortable there are low chances of one relapsing. Angela went ahead to tell me that her family’s unending support played a big part in her recovery because when someone knows that they have people that care and love them they are more than willing to work through all their challenges.

Angela as we speak has written a book called Breaking Free and it shares her story at length. She has used her experience to support other people suffering from bipolar by starting up a support group known as Heart2Heart chat. People can access this chat on WhatsApp because there is a group, Twitter @MMyjourney, Facebook as Heart2Heart chat. This support group helps people that are looking after a friend or relative with Bipolar and those with bipolar too. It is a free space for questions to be asked, answered, and for help to be given. Every last Friday of the month Angela has a physical engagement with the members of this chat and the support needed is given.

Angela(above) is the founder of this support group but I was able to also get some of the other ladies who have bipolar and want to create awareness;

 

Mr. Charles Nsimbi is a board member of Butabika hospital and this is what he had to say about the support that can be given to someone with Bipolar;

Photo by Andrew Mukasa.

Mr. Charles Nsimbi

Mr. Charles Nsimbi is a board member at Butabika hospital and this is what he said about bipolar via the telephone. “The first support that one should offer is definitely medical help for instance a proper diagnosis and of course medication. Then the next and very important one would be offering the person psycho-social intervention that is to say do not traumatize the individual and try to do everything in your power to reduce the stress that the person is undergoing at any time.”

Let us not forget that Butabika national referral hospital is a hospital that provides mental health services to patients as well as rehabilitation services to addicts. This hospital is located in south-eastern Kampala the capital city of Uganda, Luzira.

The opinion of a Phycologist;

The fact that we have been able to get the opinion of an authority one of an expert is very much needed too. Isabella Moshi a consultant and psychologist were able to share this via WhatsApp simply because she was busy most of the day and still made time for me at night to answer my questions.

The WhatsApp conversation that I had with Ms. Isabella.

Peter Kyosaba is a student as well as a student leader at Uganda Martyrs University and I was able to get a response from him in regards to bipolar. This is what he had to say;

 

Kay Redfield Jamison once said “Which of my feelings are real? Which of the ME’s is Me? The wild, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and crazy one? Or the shy, withdrawn, desperate, suicidal, doomed, and tired one? Probably a bit of both, hopefully, much that is neither.” This goes to show us that we should handle these people gently because they are always in a serious battle in their minds. The least we can do for them is be their peace.

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