This is a gratitude post thanking and reminding me of my support system that has helped me gain remission. Having witnessed the various challenges that I have faced concerning my mental health, my near and dear ones always say that I am very strong. When one talks about strength, there is inner strength and the external support. I would attribute my inner strength to my mother and father. Both of them have faced a lot of hardships in their lives and have overcome them bravely.
But with inner strength alone, I would not have managed to reach my current stage of stability and balance. I have got many pillars of supports that have been and I believe will be with me in this journey. While my diagnosis of bipolar disorder happened in 2017, I got my first full-blown manic episode in 2006 when I was in college. The incident had shaken my family entirely. I had to take a break from college for a year. During that period, I stayed with my paternal uncle and his family. They helped me rebuild my confidence and recover from the episode. Since they knew I enjoyed dancing, we used to have small sessions where I used to choreograph and perform every day. Their constant love and support helped me get back on my feet and return to college.
After 11 years of stability, it was in 2017 that I had my manic episode again. Srini (my husband) always says that he will never forget how our friends helped us in Bombay that fateful night. I don't have to name each of you, but you know how grateful we are to you for being by Srini’s side and giving him the support. Each one of them has a demanding schedule, but they dropped their work immediately and rushed to our help. They were beside Srini throughout the day. Controlling a manic episode is one of the most gruelling things anyone can face. So only true friends can agree to willingly be a part of that. We are indeed blessed.
When I got admitted to Masina Hospital in Bombay, Amma (my mother-in-law) was in the USA. She rushed back to India to be with me and take care of me. The role played by her in helping me regain my stability is immeasurable. I had gone into the pits of depression after my episode when we returned to Chennai. Amma was beside me throughout, instilling positivity and confidence. She used to go to any extent possible to cheer me up. There were nights when I used to wake up crying and feeling disturbed, and she has been with me through all of it. There are innumerable instances where Srini could not get my emotions under control, and nights after nights, we have called Amma to help us. This one post is not enough for me to express my gratitude to her for being there for me. She knows how much she means to me.
In addition to Amma, Srini’s father, sister, and Tuffy (our pet) also helped me stay afloat. My brother and sister-in-law were not next to me throughout but constantly checked on me. Our family friends also were a huge source of support at all times.
Until 2019, our families were grappling with the condition and learning and unlearning ways to find the balance. It was then that my dad joined us for a few weeks in Delhi. He was very clear that I needed to consult a therapist if I wanted to move towards remission. He did a lot of research in helping us find the right therapist. I owe it to him for pushing me to go to a therapist. Therapy has helped me immensely, and I continue taking it.
During my current period of stability, my closest friends and family have been my sounding board. They have never hesitated to be there for me and help me in any way possible. When I started my blog in 2020, my family and friends who were not aware of my condition also gave overwhelming support and continue to show their love. This is a huge source of encouragement and helps me continue writing and work towards the cause of mental health awareness.
I was not very active in my peer support group because I felt some conversations triggered me. But I had gone for a couple of peer support meets, and other people's similar lived experiences were a source of hope and strength. I made a couple of good friends who also work in the field of mental health. Currently, I am very active in my peer support community and also started one in Chennai. A safe space to share and observe similar stories and experiences helps one in improving their condition.
I have left the best for the last. The person who has been my 'constant' through this journey is my husband, Srini. He is the kindest and most patient soul that I have met. He has been by my side throughout, giving me strength and hope that things will get better. There have been times where both of us have been lost and clueless about what to do. But Srini has never lost hope and has been continuously optimistic. He has never made me feel inadequate or weak; instead, he has empowered me to face my challenges head-on. You can also read about his experience as a caregiver (https://www.thewholesomeliving.in/post/a-helping-hand).
I would not have regained this balance if not for my family and friends. There have been many times where I have shut myself from all of them and felt dejected. But none of them gave up on me. Therefore, never lose faith in your family and friends. If they don't know what you are going through, reach out to them. Never underestimate the kindness and compassion of your loved ones. Remember you are not in this alone…..