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

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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.

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  • Jul 10 2011: There's a lot of merit in sharing ideas and what works. Luckily for us complementary theraists, neuroscience is proving to the world what we know but didn't have sceinticfic proof before. Some people have been enchanted by medication but talking and sharing can show that's there's another way.
    That is why I also run awareness workshops with a short presentation of my complementary approach to shift the thinking and then I use facilitated conversation to get the audience to connect with each other. My DVD also helps share my thinking.
    In the workshops, I bring together my two areas of interest that most people think of with horror – public speaking and mental illness. The results are very rewarding, as people finally feel understood and not so alone. Although it’s difficult (and I get told it won’t work!!) I do it with mixed audiences which is far more beneficial. e.g. with students, teachers and parents; doctors, patients, staff and families and in corporate all employees together (these w/s include stress management). I’ve been trained in big group dynamics but I still find it hard to get people to invite me do it because they can’t envisage it working. Anyway I’ve been doing it on a voluntary basis at the hospitals, schools and in the community a lot, so many important people have seen it work - to their amazement.
    I’m doing some training of this method at a nurses’ conference soon and feel pleased that that proposal was accepted. Slowly, slowly, if it works, people do eventually realize. I’ve been doing this for 22 years!

    I have spoken at many conferences and once did a presentation at the brain science department at the University of Cape Town.
    I’d love to travel with my workshops if there’s ever an opportunity for that. I haven’t heard of many other people doing it this way. It sometimes feels very slow but over the many years I notice that chage is increasing which is good news. Suzanne

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