Bailey’s Story

“I want to think of your mania and depression as merely monsters which will go away when you take your medication.”

“I hate taking the medication,” she complained.

“Why do you hate taking it, Bailey?”

“Taking it means that I’m not right in the head.”

“I don’t want you to look at like that. Just think of it as you needing extra help to get your mind functioning as you want it. This medication will help you to do that.”

“I wish that I didn’t need the extra help. I wish my mind was normal like yours.”

“I know this is hard for you but with the right help, you can have a normal life like everybody else.”

“Why did it have to be me?  My parents have five children and I’m the only one who turned out like this.  Why?”

“I could ask myself the question, why wasn’t it me instead of my brother who is living with clinical depression.”

“Your brother has clinical depression?”

“Yes. He was diagnosed with it when he was 15. My mother was concerned when he started to say things like, “I think dead people must be happier than us” or “Wouldn’t it be nice to go to sleep and never wake up” and started doing self-harm like cutting his arms and legs and burning himself with cigarettes. She called me right away and I told her to make sure that someone was always with him and remove over-the-counter medicine like painkillers which can be just as dangerous as prescription medicine. I also told her to remove sharp objects and poisonous household chemicals such as bleach. When I stopped by one day, he had a long talk with him. He broke down and told me about the suicidal thoughts he was having and that he was scared. I was heartbroken but I had to keep it together. I let the psychiatrist in me take over and told him that I would give him the help and support he needed. His GP recommended that he took a course of antidepressants plus talking therapy, particularly as his your depression was quite severe.”

“How is he doing now?”

“He’s doing well thanks to the love, support and the right treatment.”

“Your brother is very lucky. I wish I had the kind of support he has.”

“You can.”

“My family isn’t as supportive. My Mom avoids talking about my condition. My Dad doesn’t say much to me. My sister once told me, ‘I wouldn’t tell anyone you have it.’ I asked her why and do you know what she said?”

“What did she say?”

“She said, ‘If my friends knew about you, they won’t want to hang out with me just like yours don’t want to hang out with you.’ She was right. People don’t want to be around the person who is mental or around their family members. I don’t know why. Maybe they think my condition is catching or something or maybe they are worried about what others might think of them being friends with the crazy girl or the crazy girl’s little sister. “

“Now, you listen to me. You’re not crazy. There’s a chemical imbalance in your brain, that’s all. The right medication will rebalance the concentration of particular neurochemicals in the brain for it to function as it should.”

“Is there a cure for what I have?”

He shook his head. “No, there isn’t a cure for Bipolar disorder which is a chronic disease, but there are medicines and other therapies which can help people function well and lead fulfilling lives. Don’t let this disease and those who don’t understand it define you. You can live a full and healthy life as long as you take your medication regularly and stay on it. I’m here for you. Let me know if you’re concerned about any side effects and we change it or figure out a way to manage the problem.”

“Okay, Doctor Reynolds. I will take the medication everyday and if I feel any side effects, I will come and see you.”

“Good. And you promise me that you will go for therapy?”

“I don’t know. I don’t feel comfortable talking to a complete stranger.”

“I can recommend the same colleague who helped my brother, if you like.”

“Is it a male or a female?”

“A male. Would you feel more comfortable talking to a female?”

“I think so.”

“All right. Let me give you the name and number of a female therapist.”

“Do your really think I need therapy?”

“Yes, I do. It can help you to manage your bipolar disorder alongside medications and to reduce the risk of relapse and improve your quality of life. You also learn how to think and respond to events in your life and to cope with stresses that have triggered your episodes in the past.”

“So, is she going to ask me what triggered my first episode?”

“Bailey, it’s up to you to share what you feel comfortable sharing.”

“I read that childhood physical, sexual or emotional abuse, family conflict, or other major life-altering events can be triggers.”

“Yes. Some women who are predisposed to bipolar disorder may experience their first episode while they are pregnant or after they have their baby.”

“That’s what happened to my high-school teacher, Mrs. Lancaster. Her in-laws were worried that she would hurt the baby so they tried to get custody of him but they lost the case because she had a really good lawyer who fought for her. And she had a great support network of friends and family who were able to provide credible court testimony.”

“I’m happy to hear that she retained custody of her child. Most courts err on the side that mental illness is a handicap to effective parenting, therefore the child usually ends up being raised by a parent or family member other than the parent diagnosed with a serious mental illness like Bipolar Disorder.”

“I was there in court to give her my support. None of my family was there although she’s my mother’s sister’s daughter.”

“Maybe you should get in touch with her. Let her support you this time.”

“Maybe I will. Thanks, Doctor Reynolds. At least, I have two people in my corner.”

“Three, if you call her,” he said, handing her the card with the name and number of the therapist. “And there is online support groups you can check out as well.”

She took the card. “I will check them out.”

“Bailey, remember, I’m just a phone away.”

She smiled. “Goodbye, Doctor Reynolds.”

“Goodbye, Bailey.”

On her way home, she called the number he gave her and made an appointment.  

Posted for October 2020 Writing Prompts – #26 – Merely monsters

This story was written for Mental Illness Awareness week (Oct 4-10, 2020). I encourage people to read and about mental illness and share what they learn with others. This is the only way we can combat the stigma associated with mental illness.

Sources: NHS; Medical News Today; NAMI; Health Direct; Family Law Group;

    

10 comments

  1. It’s a noteworthy story and so important to raise awareness for mental health. I’m “going to” a mental health concert fundraiser tonight to for the same reason. Nice job on your story.
    Thank you ❤️ Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

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