Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Horror of Being Out of Control

I watched an eposide of "Law and Order" this weekend. It dealt with a girl who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who stopped taking her meds and left a wake of carnage in her path.

Do you know anyone with a mental illness? The real kind - where they hurt themselves or suffer from paranoia or have mood swings from really great highs to really bad lows. The kind of illness where they should be under a doctor's care or on medication. That to me is a great horror. The feeling of being out of control. If you have ever made a trip to Toronto you have likely seen someone like this on the streets - the people who are arguing with someone but there is no one standing beside them. This is often something called bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally and usually shows up between the ages of 15 and 25. The exact cause is unknown, but it occurs more often in relatives of people with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder results from disturbances in the areas of the brain that regulate mood. During manic periods, a person with bipolar disorder may be overly impulsive and energetic, with an exaggerated sense of self, the depressed phase beings overwhelming feelings of anxiety, low self-worth and suicidal thoughts.

For the most part this can be balanced with medicine but people who take these medicines will often say that the cure is worse then the illness.

I would not even begin to guess at what that must be like and am grateful that I do not have to know it first hand.

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