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Karen’s story

“Please remember that this is an illness.”

What kind of stigma did you experience/observe?

I have been diagnosed with bi-poplar. It is a well-known fact by my family but yet no one – not even family – seems to understand what it is really like for me. I get frustrated because people tell me I just use it as an excuse to get medication and that it is a convenient excuse to use whenever things go wrong. My medication works but I have severe episodes where I am in a severe fight and flight mode for 2 to 3 days. When this happens most people tend to shut me out of their lives.

I just wish I could make people understand that this is a real illness and not something I can control. Education should be the key to helping people instead of shutting them out of your life. Family especially needs to educate themselves about what life is like for me. I know my triggers so the episodes don’t happen as often because they are quite well controlled by my medication. I do feel like an outcast – lonely and miserable most of the time.

How did you overcome this experience?

My family physician had been treating me for severe depression. After trying many, many medications he finally told me I should see a psychiatrist. In the beginning I would take my medication for a short time and then fool myself into thinking I could go without it because I was better. I finally connected with a psychiatrist who helped me to understand my illness better. She made me feel comfortable because she understood and didn’t ridicule me or make me feel bad.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

Please remember that this is an illness. Don’t be afraid to admit you have problems be honest with your doctor. This illness is not a choice you have made yourself, rather a disease that can be treated.

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