TED Conversations

Suzanne Leighton

Complementary Therapist, special interest in bipolar disorder, Allied Health Professions Council, South Africa

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

Is there a cure for bipolar disorder? Will we ever overcome the stigma?

I, like you John, have chosen to help others by admitting and talking about the problems of my past and how I overcame them. Mine is the other extreme of bipolar mania. Bipolar disorder is not a curse if you can learn how to manage it. If you can constructively channel the energy previously trapped in the illness it can become your greatest asset. I believe I have done this and, to give hope to others, I speak about in my DVD called 'ON THE EDGE OF MADNESS - Living well with bipolar." Ask for order form at integratingpolarites@gmail.com. I was told I had to be on medicaton for the rest of my life and now, years later, when I tell people I manage my life without medication they say I must have been wrongly diagnosed or that I will relapse. It wasn't easy and I had some wise help but with detremination and focus I have retrained myself into a stable and balanced life style which takes a lot of discipline and self honouring. Maybe it's not a cure but it's certainly management and maybe that's what we all need. As for stigma, talking and understanding helps to overcome the fear of what people don't know how to handle. The people I know who have been mentally unstable are also very sensitivity, creativity and have great intellegence - that's not something to be embarrased about, rather proud of unusual assets.

+2
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jul 9 2011: I doubt that the mental illness stigma will ever cease to exist. You cannot change the minds of people that being bipolar makes you in some sense 'crazy'. But perhaps if people who are bipolar like me, show how gifted we are because of our "abnormalities", then perhaps the stigma will start to shift. People whom I meet that are particularly intellectual or creative many times turn out to be bipolar and this makes me very excited. Perhaps psychiatry and psychology should work on encouraging the talents of bipolar people and enrich the world of medicine, art, culture.

    I spent 10 years on medications and never had lasting relief. I finally made the decision to stop taking medication and follow a diet, exercise and life strategy that took me a year to plan before I titrated myself off medications. I researched which foods had which effects on neurotransmitters, read stories from others who did it, emailed prominent bipolar experts, etc. I experimented with the foods, types of exercise and different ways to slightly structure my time to prevent mood switches. It worked. Just recently I went back to see the research/psychiatrist clinical director at an Ivy League medical center where I once received my psychiatric treatment. He evaluated me and then told me that he considered me in "remission". He also told me that medications only work for 50% of the population, that often times those not on medication still have mood switches, but they are much slower and sometimes less intense. Medications change the cycling pattern, but do not cure it, he said.

    I am now going back to this same school for Neuroscience and perhaps medical school so I can study alternative treatments on the brain. I have also been helping to coach people SAFELY get off of their medicines, listen to themselves and guidance in designing exercise and nutrition programs. I am still learning, but have gone from a chronic mental patient to a happy and fulfilled human being.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.