Two years ago in September one of my oldest and best friends committed suicide and died instantly. She lived in Tehran, Iran, which is where I was born and raised and lived until my early twenties before I moved to America for a short while before within a couple of years deciding to move to England for good. I believe she was an undiagnosed bipolar. Sanaz, my friend and I were very similar. We both could be embarrassingly loud in crowds. We were both sometimes too energetic, too happy, too generous, too impulsive, too motivated, or incredibly depressed. And, we both had frequent suicide ideation and acted on these thoughts on occasions. She was 4 years younger than me, the same age as my little sister. And I had in fact met her through my sister. She was in a way a part of my small family, and her death gravely affected me.
At the same time, I was in England, being stalked and harassed by a group of people led by my ex partner, whom I have come to find are a hate group most of the members of which I do not really know personally but whose subject of hate is me. Within a few weeks, I was kicked out of the accommodation I had rented from someone who was familiar with my ex but whom I believed would protect me from him. I was in the streets in a strange town I had only been in for a short while and alone and completely helpless. A very close person to me suggested that I should go to France and stay with him and his wife for a while. I was manic. I could hardly sleep, or eat. But, at the same time I was not like before enjoying my manic episode. I believed the whole world was against me. I was scared of everyone and everything and I was also very depressed. So I decided to end it all. I tried to take all the medicine that I found at my friend’s medicine cabinet; lots of pain killers mainly, and I planned to walk into the French sea. This was November 2019. My friend and his wife stopped me and took me to a mental hospital.
It wasn’t the first time I was taken to a hospital for my mental health, or the first time I had suicide ideation but, it was the first time I was in the right place; where mental health issues are taken seriously and a patient is being properly observed and diagnosed. My deceased friend and I had both been frequently suicidal since we were very young; we both had psychotherapy session, both had been wrongly diagnosed in the past with depression, had taken medication for this, and me, I was even wrongly diagnosed with BPD once. But, it was only me who was lucky enough to end up in the right hands, with people who care, and put a patient’s interest before anything else.
I was sleeping, completely medicated, in an isolation room when doctor Hubert, who was not my main doctor, walked towards a sort of a bed I had made with my blankets and pillows on the floor-for some reason I protested against sleeping on my bed regularly-and said: you are bipolar!
I have been thinking about that moment for a while now; about what I thought, and how I felt. And I remembered that I only said: Dr. Hubert, you’ve approached me twice now and both times it’s just when I have farted! He smiled and said: it’s okay. I was embarrassed by the side effect of the medications I was being given. And I guess too medicated to feel anything. He left the room, and I just went back to sleep.
These days, I am digesting the upsetting fact of my disorder and the more awful fact of my living without a right diagnosis for all my adult life till the age of 38. And thinking about all those years of my own suffering and about Sanaz who died undiagnosed. I feel lucky! I mean, I have read the statistics. People with bipolar disorder are a very small percentage of the whole population. But, where are these samples from? I know for a fact that in Iran hardly anyone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder or any mental disorder for that matter. People live whole lives and die of natural causes or suicide undiagnosed. And even in the UK, with the fantastic NHS, you have to have the right carers who take you to the GP again and again and insist that you need a psychiatrist and even then they have to be persistent enough to get second and third visits to the hospital, or you just simply need to be lucky enough to have a psychotic episode.
We were having a discussion with my new friends who are all bipolar, about psychotic episode with bipolar ll. It is not very common. I have been diagnosed with bipolar l. But, I lived 38 years without a major psychotic episode. And what if the circumstances which triggered my psychosis had never come about? What if I didn’t have the delusion that everyone around me was in contact with the hate group? That someone was following me everywhere? And the same time, someone protecting me? I would have died of suicide or suffered more and more everyday for the rest of my life, not knowing what is wrong with me is bipolar disorder. Just like my friend, Sanaz. She never knew what her ever changing moods are a result of. She never had the right medication. Antidepressants without the correct medication for the mood swings can put a bipolar patient’s health more at risk than help them. Those medication on their own, can induce mania in a normal person. Imagine what they can do to someone with bipolar disorder.
In the hospital, my own Doctor: Dr. Fitzner observed me for six months. We had meetings every week. I felt some of the methods she used, for example; the isolation room in which I spent a total 15 days in were cruel, or at least the length of time I had to stay completely isolated in a room behind 2 thick doors, especially with my background of having grown up during a war with my city being bombed for 8 eight years, frequently fearing that a bomb might fall on the hospital building and I’d be trapped there for ever, were outdated. I also had to stay in my own room until a certain time in the evening for many days, or was deprived from access to my mobile for long periods and sometimes I could only wear hospital’s and not my own clothes… nevertheless, I consider myself lucky, to have happened to have been stalked, to have ended up in a hospital France, and most importantly to have gone psychotic! Because otherwise, with everything considered; with my manic episodes never being being brought into the discussion with doctors, and taken into account not even by myself -thinking my overspending was due to my generous personality, and my ever growing number of new projects was due to my diverse and vast interests in many different subjects and level of intelligence and creativity, my impulsiveness and reckless decision making and behavior was linked to my free spirit, and my lack of need for sleeping or eating was because I am super-human, and mostly enjoying all that when the times were good – if it was not for the psychosis how would I have been diagnosed?
Or, is it possible that I was not psychotic, nor delusional? That everything i believed was true? That I was being followed and this hate group I was running from were in contact with people around me? That in fact I have bipolar ll? Which could be why my manic episodes were always mild and mostly pleasant, and I had never had experienced psychosis in the past even when I had been traumatized in my adulthood; it all had been fairly-though with difficulty-manageable? and I went on undiagnosed all those years without an actual or perceived psychotic episode.