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By Paul Chong Sunday, 26 February 2017
The face of a bipolar man?
I am a bipolar man, so said my wife Lilian & my two sons & daughter, all inclined to agree, taking side with their mother. According to them, I fluctuate between two extremes – the very high & the very low. They all said that I tend to swing from great depression to extreme high when I become an exceptional superman with tons of energy to perform great tasks.
According to my wife Lilian, we’ve been married for 52 years, she categorically maintained that I am a Schizophrenia, a Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, a bombshell of a person, highly volatile & explosive . . . very dangerous to be near. I could be a danger unto myself & a danger unto others.
From the time 1960 of “love at first sight to this end of hate at last bite”, never have I ever raised a little finger on her. How can such a relationship get to be so wrong & so misunderstood. I love peace & harmony. Violence is not my game. Bipolar syndrome I have not, but ultra sensitivity that I do have. When I am hurt, there would be tears in my heart, though no tears are visible in the eyes.
Bipolar I am not. If what is said of me is true, this life of mine would have ceased to be or I would probably be languishing in a great mental institution . . . just like the great actor Jack Nicholson who was flown into the cuckoo’s nest, confined as a sane man for a minor crime. There he remained from a sane normal human being to one who became insane. This is the danger of misdiagnosis & thereupon the danger of a treatment most foul.
What I have is what every normal person has. I feel angry when I am unjustly treated, I feel sad as a result of a sad event, I get greatly disappointed when I am unceremoniously disposed of for whatever. Everybody feel sad, happy or unhappy. Everybody goes through life of up & down, active or inactive, well or unwell. It’s all normal & expected out of this life which can never be a bed of roses. Even roses, pretty as they are, can prick you. Some people has it better than others. No two lives can be identical.
My greatest weapon of mass destruction(WMD) for my own self preservation, peace & harmony is my “war of silence” when I literally cut myself off from communicating with anybody, particularly the culprit who hurt my feelings. In general, everybody takes it that I am now in a manic depressing state . . . totally inactive. In my own comfort zone, this is how I take the advantage of having the best time of my life . . . a wonderful period of leisure & pleasure.Think what you want, it bears no significance to me. They say those who laugh last laugh best.
I am a romantic fool thinking that love would last . . . that which is good would last forever. Realistically life changes. People do change . . . sometimes for the better, other times for the worst.
When you love deeply, the greater will the hurt be. Human feelings are so fragile & often misunderstood. As a psychiatrist, there is no way you can clearly diagnose. Most diagnosis is speculative in nature & medication as subsequently prescribed is on the basis of trial & error. The Midland consultant psychiatrist, Dr Sam Restifo MBBS, FRANZCP*, who was meeting me for the first time ever, without the the basis of any test or long term observation, was convinced straightaway that I am certainly a bipolar case. I warned him that he could be wrong & I am not prepared to take any drug against my own sense of knowledge. Forcing anything on me against my will is in anyway going to be of help. (*Twice he came to the house totally uninvited & without permission. First time, I entertained him & his lady assistant out of courtesy but not the second time . . . I shut the door on him & her. He has yet to furnish me with his promised report. I am considering a civil case for intrusion of personal privacy & peace of mind).
If at all I am truly sick, throwing me out of my beloved home is ridiculously insane for my sane wife to do. All the more, I should be kept in the house, tenderly loved & cared for. I was utterly shocked when I saw my younger son with my luggage all packed at the car porch saying “Here’s your stuff. Mum doesn’t want you to be home. You are to leave the house.”
For the first time in over 50 years, I am now a vagabond, living the first week at son Andrew’s place in Carlisle and then another week at my old Gideon friend’s place in Ranford. I was rejected by my on brother-in-law Steve who said: “No, you cannot stay here. You’ve got to go. I cannot get involved in this.” Another disappointment was with Marie & Nigel, cousins by marriage, who can only render & mouthing sweet gesture of goodwill & kindness.
Well, Confucius said: “You can get to know a person but not his heart.”
At age 78, after spending well over 40 years making a living, making sacrifices when we migrated to Perth in 1982. My daughter Agnes is a PhD in Asian Studies, an anesthetic doctor David and last but not least, my youngest son Andrew with top honours in a two-major degree (Civil Engineering & Computer Science), I am more than happy with life.
They say that all that glitter is not gold. Beneath the golden glitter, an under current was surging on. Lilian my dear wife was beginning not to like my presence. I was working 14 hours a day (literally 24/7) running a small delicattesen business in Kalamunda, which caught the mass media attention when it ceased to sell cigarettes in support of the Non-Smoking Campaign in the years of the 1980s.
I suffered financial stress & strain in what I did (imagine A DELI NOT SELLING CIGARETTES) and I collapsed in a pool of blood in the shop one morning in 1990. I had duodenal ulcer. I was told to take things easy & daily to take Zantac for the rest of my natural life. I did for only 6 months.
What followed was diabetes type 2, chronic back ache & glaucoma, leaving me legally blind & not allowed to drive anymore. Also, I had to stop playing golf. My life took on a 180 degree turn & I became totally dependent on Lilian. I guess that’s hard on her too.
Human beings are the most gregorised creatures here on earth. They don’t live in isolation, for they need to mix & integrate with one another. But individual Bipolar are unique as no two persons in this whole world is alike – not even if they are identical twins. Each one of us behave differently. How do people behave & why people behave the way they do?
Yesterday, I was waiting to catch the bus home in Belmont area. Thereupon the middle of the bus route came this tall young Aboriginal girl who was acting strangely. With feet astride she was trying to block the flowing traffic. Instead of the pedestrian trying to avoid accident, she was deliberately to get hit. Traffic was weaving around her. She wasn’t quite herself, she was thoroughly intoxicated. As she stood unsteadily, persistently waving her hands, the breeze just brought on the stench of her liquor. She smelt foul & looked unkempt.. I am sure under normal circumstances, she’s a nice person, but under the influence of alcohol, she was somebody else.
She must have affected me quite a bit, for though I took the right bus, I got down in an unfamiliar spot. Being visually impaired, I had some difficulties getting home. I wandered around a fair bit & before long I was lost. If not for a good samaritan driving by in her Subaru, I was disoriented to find my way home. Plagued by chronic back pain, walking was my least joy of exercise so recommended by my doctor.
The moment I got back, I had an early dinner. Feeling tired, I laid down. It was about six in the evening & I slept off soundly till 11.00 pm. When I woke up then I was totally refreshed & rejuvenated. I always find myself most productive’ Thoughts & inspiration come quickly & without any hassle. And here we are, you among the many others globally reading this article’
Under normal circumstances, I am always happy, sociable, approachable, friendly & I like to say I am loveable. I love singing, arranging karaoke social dinner ceaselessly for home functions as well as public functions in fund raising. Nothing negative . . . always positive contributions to the community.
I do good & nothing bad has ever come out of me.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of elevated mood.The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases.During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others.The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than 6 percent over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30–40 percent. Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated.
Actress Catherine Zeta Jones is said to shut herself off from public appearance whenever she was seized by bipolar condition While we all experience mood changes in response to life’s events, some people’s moods fluctuate up and down much more than usual. People with bipolar disorder can have extreme moods of feeling really high, very active and euphoric (‘manic’); or feeling really low (‘depression’). When these shifts in moods cause changes in how you’re behaving and how you are able to function in your everyday life, it’s to get help.
The causes are not clearly understood, but both environmental & genetic factors play a role. Many genes of small effect contribute to risk. Environmental factors include a history of childhood abuse, and long-term stress. The condition is divided into bipolar I disorder if there has been at least one manic episode, with or without depressive episodes, and bipolar II disorder if there has been at least one hypomanic episode (but no manic episodes) and one major depressive episode. In those with less severe symptoms of a prolonged duration, the condition cyclothymic disorder may be diagnosed. If due to drugs or medical problems, it is classified separate. Other conditions that may present in a similar manner include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and substance use disorder as well as a number of medical conditions. Medical testing is not required for a diagnosis, though blood tests or medical imaging can be done to rule out other problems.
Treatment commonly includes psychotherapy, as well as medications such as mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Examples of mood stabilizers that are commonly used include lithium and various anticonvulsants. Treatment in a hospital without the individual’s consent may be required if a person is at risk to themselves or others but refuses treatment. Severe behavioral problems may be managed with short term antipsychotics or benzodiazepines. In periods of mania it is recommended that antidepressants be stopped. If antidepressants are used for periods of depression they should be used with a mood stabilizer. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be helpful for those who do not respond to other treatments. If treatments are stopped, it is recommended that this be done slowly. Many individuals have financial, social or work-related problems due to the illness. These difficulties occur a quarter to a third of the time on average. The risk of death from natural causes such as heart disease is twice that of the general population. This is due to poor lifestyle choices and the side effects from medications.
Over the years, the undercurrent of unhappiness was building. Lilian is more than a carer for me, a non-paid chauffer, an unpaid cook & domestic help . . . all were taking a toll upon her.
The last straw broke on me rather than on her. Chinese New Year celebrations end on the 15th day of the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. I had wanted to go out with her the whole day. All dressed & ready to go, but each time she said “no” without saying why. So I finally settled down to my computer.
Like a fool I was, she was in the master bedroom adorning herself to go out for the Chap Goh Mei’s celebration at the Club in Willetton. She slipped away quietly without telling a soul.
Now the rest is history. Suffice for me to say that last straw broke down my emotional buttom, setting my whole inner being on fire & like a thief ransacking the house in search of valubles. I suppose I should not have done & I apologised promising never to do that again.
But she was convinced that I would have killed her had she been home. She expressed herself & made it known to the family with her messages in WhastsApp.
Our problem is a case of personal conflict & a relationship that had rotted away over the years. Since she had her monopause, I have been a “virgin”. She was known to me as “mimosa” – a “touch-me-not” prickly weed. She was alwasys having more than a slitting headache or asn upset stomach. Our master bedroom becomes her domain. Quite often she locked it. My nightly sojourn is the reclining chair in the lounge.
My heart bleeds, but who is to see. I have tears in my heart, but none at all in my eyes – but who’s to tell & understand the situation between two apparently loving persons.
Our case has nothing to do with bipolar or any disoder. It is a case of personal conflict that has turned sour a good human relationship.
Find a problem & solve it
Find a hurt & heal it
Find a need & fulfil it
To every action there is a direct opposite reaction
The natural law of cause & effect rules all the time.
Dr. Francois Johannes Hugo, AMO & Chief Psychiatrist of St John Of God, Midland Mental Hospital, concluded that there was no evidence of my having any bipolar symptoms. His principal diagnosis: Early Vascular dementia with behavioural changes & MCI. (24 October – 9 November 2017 Ward 4C Room 10).
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent
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