Early indications

I am Praveen a Punjabi woman from the West Midlands area. I have always been very different as a child, but no one thought anything of it. I was just being me, a very hyperactive kid who loved talking and never shut up. I was always very active too, wanting to do everything possible in life in one day, and somehow I did manage to do it most of the time.

Looking back, this was my early indication of having bipolar, which never got picked up by anyone until I was 30 years old. I am sharing my story here as it fits in with my mission to raise awareness on mental health within Punjabi communities.

Accepting the diagnosis

Once I was diagnosed, my main challenge was accepting it. I was diagnosed 4 years ago, and I couldn’t accept nor understand it. It also didn’t help to be told not to tell anyone about it, as if it was something to be ashamed of. I did tell some people, especially anyone who was a medical professional as I thought they would understand me better and not judge me. I also told only a few close friends about it. Most of my friends never knew about it, and none of my family knew except my mum, dad and brother.

Once I received my diagnosis I was told to take medication which made me sleep for 14 hours a day. Previously I was sleeping 3-4 hours daily for a few weeks, but my normal sleep pattern is 6 hours per day. I was also told to be off work for 3-4 months, and I didn’t really understand why this was the case. Over this period of time, I went back to my usual sleep pattern of 6 hours and my energy levels calmed down too.

Looking back, I realised the support was all there for me. That said, as I wasn’t accepting of my diagnosis, I blocked it all out. I didn’t ask any questions, just acted as if everything was normal, but it actually wasn’t normal. Things weren’t normal as I couldn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t want to tell anyone about it either.

Now that I have finally accepted my diagnosis, it makes sense to me that I have been bipolar my whole life. Through doing a lot of personal development I have managed to become more aware of who I am, and really understanding myself better, why I do things the way I do.

I believe we are energy, and bipolar to me means having naturally high energy which is directed either really high when elated /manic, or really low when depressed / suicidal. I have been in all of these states my life, fluctuating between them, but I am happy to say I am more on the elated side these days. Whilst you cannot be cured of bipolar disorder you can live successfully with it. I believe it doesn’t happen overnight, it's something that you build up to over time. 

Self management

I find doing things that keep my mindset right helps me.This includes regular exercise, meditation, practicing gratitude, affirmations and visualisation exercises daily. Through this, I control what my mind thinks, rather than letting my mind control what I think.

In the Punjabi community, I am aware of at least a handful of people with mental health conditions, but they have all been looked down on, ignored and nobody talks about the condition. It is important to talk and accept what has happened. I understand this is hard, as it took me four years to accept my diagnosis. It only happened because of the various lockdowns, where I was forced to stay at home and do something else rather than going out and doing an activity, as I always did before.

I believe accepting that in embracing my condition and talking about it openly is the first step. Supporting those in need is the next step. Be sensitive to others needs too as we all have different needs.

You can find out more about me on my:

"I have bipolar and Bipolar UK support groups are invaluable to me"

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