When I started blogging on 31st Augus, 2008, I impromptuo called it Bipolar Stroke. Partly because it reflected me, the real me, the way I was born. In my first blog I decided to come in open (uncharacteristically so for an Indian) about my being one of those 1.5% of global population who suffer from this affliction which does not hve a cure. The first line treatments available for the disorder(Lithium and Valproate) barely manage it and high degree of prolonged socio-occupational maladjustment among many sufferers is the life long pattern of the disorder. If left untreated (and majority of patirents either do not seek or do not receive treatment) it only worsens with the age......
When I started blogging last year, little did I realise that one day I will recristen the very purpose of this blogging site to taking the stigma out of the pernicious last remanant of "Leprosy of 21st Century" and that in India at least it would fall on my shoulders the onerous responsibility of blowing the counch ( or say being the early bird fighter) for starting the "100 Year War against Stigma related to all forms of Mental Illnesses"
Though I had followed a policy of glasnost in case of my own condition ever since the madness and sadness stuck my life in 1997, it was only in recent years that I started on the uncharted path of trying to become better read layman on all aspects of mental disorders. As my years of knowledge seeking needed an outlet, I unconsciously started on taking the battle to the street- by talking about different aspects of "mental disorders and India" in multiple forums. It was in this context that in 2008 when 'I was invited by one of the National Insititutes of Disabilities to give key note address, I launched my public awareness compaign for treating mental disorders and physical illnesses on the same footing. In June, 2009 when I was invited by Public Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Patna, I chose to dwell on "Mental Illness and BIMARU Bihar"- the state today accounts for 8-9% of India's population but alas has no mental health care facility.
But none of above had prepared me for the tsunami unleased in my roller coaster life, which has been totally turned upside down by the recent coverage of one part of my 12 years survival with Manic Depressive Disorder in Mint on 5th November, 2009 (http://www.livemint.com/2009/11/04235750/Akhileshwar-Sahay--Life-lesso.html).
I was not prepared by the unprecedented response which the article has generated. In public, the solidarity from friends, colleagues, family members and unknowns has been reassurig but at the same time it has also been scary, numbing and humbling. More importantly, it has put onerous responsibiliy on me, some of which I am neither educated to discharge, nor allowed to deal with.
People in private have been coming out with their stories, stories of the relatives and friends and children and spouses. I am also finding many co-collaborators who are ready to join the battle by coming out with the cases in their personal life. There is another type of people asking for details pertaining to the illness- I am afraid the individual cases are person specific, and the first thing a suffer or a carer of mental disorders should do is to get to its family physician and with his/her help try to locate a psychatrist/ clinical psychologist in the nearest centre.
In coming days i would try to make this site a reservoir of resources for creating better awareness, understanding and education of issues related to mental disorders, with specific reference to India
I have thought through the implications of having having started on this uncharted path... it is to do my bit in the 100 year war. I may be an early bird warrior and not the most ideally suited for. This war requires million of soldiers wih various types of arms and ammunitions and steely determination of fight to finish....Are you man or woman enough to be part of the war monentarily, figuratively or purposely