Imagine waking up in the morning and feeling like you have the world in the palm of your hands. Nothing can stop you and all of a sudden you want to spend your money excessively. You see nothing wrong with splurging. Then you stop and think to yourself “Life sucks, I just want to die. Nobody understands me.” That moment of happiness you once had has suddenly turned into an episode of sadness.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group claim that over 4 million South Africans have Bipolar Disorder. The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that approximately one in three teens who suffered Bipolar developed substance abuse. Bipolar is a mental disorder that is characterised by various mood swings. The manic state consists of the person having extreme energy and drive, the depression state is when the person feels low, and the very depressed person may even contemplate committing suicide. This disorder affects people all over the world, but how does it affect young people? What do people need to know about mental disorders?
It’s a Wednesday afternoon, the weather is sunny and I’m about to meet Gugu. Gugu is a young talented individual. She is like every other young person out there. She loves to hang out with her friends and have a good time. But something sets her apart. Since 2010 she has been suffering with severe mood swings. She feels as though having a mental disorder makes her stand out. Her head is facing the ground and she mutters, “I wish people would understand but they don’t,” she said. In that moment you could sense her drifting away from reality.
She describes her disorder as something that annoys the people who surround her. In order to escape from her severe mood swings she prefers to sleep or to do something creative. “Sometimes I’m too happy to a point where I have to calm myself down with some sort of sadness,” she said. She is constantly trying to balance her manic and depressive mood swings.
The stigma attached to her illness makes her to become defensive about who to open up to. A lot of young people are suffering from mental disorders and yet, they don’t even know it. Most of them are afraid of being called “weird or crazy”. Bipolar is not rare and has existed for many years. Not only does it affect young people but celebrities as well including Demi Lovato and Britney Spears.
If you feel as though you may be suffering from this disorder, it’s best for you to seek help from a psychologist or find someone to confide in. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group offers counsellors that you can talk to.
Contact a counsellor between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Sunday on 011 262 6396.
For more information about the South African Depression and Anxiety Group visit, http://www.sadag.org/.