South African in Macau

There is hope, you are not alone

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It has been a while since my last post, mainly because I lost myself a little along the way.  I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder in 2012 with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as a part of it.  What this basically means is I tend to get depression during autumn and winter months.  Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and I need to take daily medication to help my brain get the correct brain chemicals that it needs for me to be a functioning member of society.  My personal experience with the disorder is that I can generally function normally and my moods are stable, I just have a bit higher anxiety and with SAD I get depression during winter which totally derails my creativity and zest for life.

When I was first diagnosed I suffered from very bad depression, night terrors and visual delusions (which is how my psychosis manifested) and was burnt out.  It got really bad, and when I started my medication, I felt sick every day for about four weeks until my body adjusted to the medication.  After the first two weeks the medication really started helping, and my psychosis was lifted in a few days.  It was the scariest experience I’ve ever had and I don’t wish it upon anyone.  What really helped me through it all was God, Who is my rock and I could really find shelter in Him.  Sometimes I would just be in bed crying and praying and His presence helped soothe my mental and emotional turmoil.  I also have a very supportive family network, and my husband (then fiancee) really stood by my side from the start.  

I continued working during this time, and after recovering from the depression and burn out in about 18months I started with my Honours in Psychology at Unisa.  What was really striking to me is that I actually studies Bipolar disorder when I was doing my degree in Psychology before I got diagnosed, and I didn’t see the signs in myself at all.  And all the knowledge in the world cannot prepare you for what it really means to have psychosis, or depression, mania etc.  When I was studying my honours course I realised the impact our mental health has on our whole life and I really got very passionate about how the human mind works and how society and our family impacts on that as well.  When I was doing my degree I functioned in mania most of the time so I could study till very late, and wake up early for months on end, which I would not be able to do anymore because my medication regulates my brain, and I have a more balances sleep and wake cycle which meant to me I will have less energy to study and therefore not do well in my degree.  My assumption was incorrect, I graduated my Honours degree in 2016 Cum laude showing that with very hard work and determination you can still accomplish your dreams even with mental illness.  When my husband and I moved to Macau I was excited to see that the universities here offer Masters and PhD’s in Psychology, and I’m hoping to start studying my Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy in September of 2018.  

The reason why I am sharing all of this with you is to educate and inspire you who knows someone or is someone suffering from any type of lifelong illness where society has told you that you cannot accomplish certain things due to said illness.  I am here to tell you that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to with hard work, determination and a lot of grace from God.  This is also and introduction into my brand new site dedicated to mental health that will run alongside the South African in Macau site dedicated to travel and my expat experiences. The site is called Mental Mosaic because even though we have broken pieces, it can be brought together to create a beautiful and unique mosaic.  

If you have any question or comments about Bipolar disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder, leave your questions and remarks in the comment section, and I will get back to you, or check out my site dedicated to mental health Mental Mosaic here. 

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