It is not easy for me to stand up and declare this: I am a psychiatric patient, and the diagnosis is dysthymia. There is a huge stigma in Malaysia that, anybody with any psychiatric conditions is to be deemed as “cray-cray” and unfit for any daily activities. However, almost every one who knows me personally will agree that I am not only functional, but probably functioning way better than a lot of people.
People with psychiatric issues are often discriminated in Malaysia, without knowing the extent of the conditions and background stories. Some are being denied their opportunities in career, some even rely on the empathy and charity from others, only if the society is willing to “sympathise” on them. Therefore, people with psychiatric issues are reluctant to seek help, often opt for denial or worse substance abuse. Personally I think whatever mental illnesses prevalence figure reported most likely an under-reported figure and does not reflect the real situation.
What is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia is defined as persistent mild depression, or more professionally persistent depressive disorder. There is another lay men term of “high-functioning depression” that describes my condition more aptly.
What to Expect
I enjoy spending time doing things alone and minimising any forms of human interactions. I am very critical and cynical towards a lot of things. This contribute to my particular way of thinking process and always pushing for organisation (in my particular ways). If I fail to achieve the perfection or order, I am easily frustrated and irritated, no matter how small the matters be. This has lead to quite a few heated arguments between my Lady and I. On top of that, I can hardly find fun in most of the activities, besides driving fast. I am constantly on-the-go to execute my plans, which are trying to control the future. That put me in the situation of getting less rest and constantly tired. In fact, my brain is constantly working to churn out ideas and I am busy realising those ideas.
I am now in the purview of both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment options.
In term of pharmacological treatment, I am currently taking Escitalopram 5mg, which is half of the normal dose. Escitalopram is intended to increase the serotonin level in my brain, with the hope to alleviate my irritability and indirectly reducing conflicts. Currently the once daily dosing regime is perfect for my living style.
At the same time, we (my Lady and I) are trying to cope this issue (mostly on my emotions) by seeking help from the Lord. I am lacking in seeking His words. We talked to our Pastor regarding strategies in our family life. Prior to that, we attended to psychiatrists in my work place together. My Lady was being briefed on what to watch out and what to expect.
From the time of diagnosis till the day of this writing, there were fewer conflicts between us. However, there are a few times when I burst into fire of anger. I broke a few items due to those eruptions. Other times I am a fully functional professional.
Call of Action
There are multiple causes for mental illnesses, biological or non-biological, direct or indirectly. I am not willing to talk about the factors that contribute to my issues, but I do want to make it clear, not all people who have mental health problems are undignified to be part of the society. Please put down your coloured glasses, and recognise psychiatric patients are just like you who are suffering from cough and cold, and may need love, pamper and support just like you do. If they are not asking for anything, just respect the differences and grow together.