Lucy first began to experience mental health issues at age 17, during the lead up to the year 12 final exams. A manic episode led to misdiagnoses of bipolar disorder from her local GP. As a result, she was prescribed high dosages of anti-depressants without being referring to a mental health specialist. Over the next 7 years, Lucy continued to battle with her mental health, often seeking out information and consultation herself.
‘I had this genius thought to myself, why do we need clothing?… I took off my clothes and started to chase my friends around my home’
With over 4 million or 17.5% of Australians currently suffering from a mental health disorder (ABS,2015), Lucy’s experience is one that many Australians encounter at some point during their lifetime. The manic episode that Lucy encountered was a rare case in which her phycologists now believe was likely brought on by anti-depressants. This manic episode led to the misdiagnoses of bipolar, a condition that is characterized by extreme moods being low (depressed) and high/excited (manic) (Beyond Blue, 2017).
‘It became normal for me to be crying for hours every night in bed by myself … I think that’s when I realized that I had mental health difficulties’
Registered Psychologist Mathew Aquilina, says that manic episodes like the one Lucy experienced ‘could occur in the context of anxiety, psychosis, and mood disorders not limited to Bipolar Type 1 or 2’ which would ‘generally be the result of a cumulative effect of underlying stress, trauma, or otherwise unexpressed emotion’. In some cases such as Lucy’s, psychopharmacological substances could be the cause, however, was rare and ‘would likely occur following the prescription of an unsuitable medication or combination of such.’
‘You can live a normal life… and I hope that gets emphasized more as we go on to talk about mental health in the community’
One of the hardest things Lucy had to deal with was the stigma surrounding mental health and the and the lack of support networks available to her. Lucy believes had she have been referred to mental health specialist and had more support from those around her, the recovery process would have a lot smoother. Mathew Aquilina believes that being proactive and asking someone suffering if they ok from is a pivotal way that friends and family can help their loved ones, ‘avoid telling people to “stop” having their mental health difficulty, and expecting them to always seek help or recover themselves’.
After her own 7-year battle, Lucy has now completed a PhD in Psychology, looking to help others suffering from mental health difficulties.
If you believe that yourself or someone you know may be suffering from mental health difficulties, Mathew Aquilina recommends ‘visiting a GP, asking for a Mental Health Care Plan, and finding a psychologist or mental health professional in the local area’. Resources such as beyondblue, Life Line and Head Space are all also freely available to offer support and guidance if needed.
Aquilina. M Aquilina 2017, Email 13 Oct
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015, National Health Survey: Mental Health and co-existing physical health conditions, cat. no. 4329.0.00.004, viewed 13 October 2017, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/C0A4290EF1E7E7FDCA257F1E001C0B84?Opendocument
beyondblue 2017, Bipolar Disorder, viewed 13 October 2017, https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/bipolar-disorder
Black Dog Institue 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
Headspace 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://headspace.org.au/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIrLSNkbby1gIVAX-9Ch3JVwUXEAMYAyAAEgJynfD_BwE
Lifeline 2017, viewed 15 October 2017, https://www.lifeline.org.au/