My unexpected journey through mental illness.

Rand Hadid, a 27 year old Syrian is sharing her story. After she had to leave her home country to the UAE and then move again to the States for studies and go through the disappointment of the university’s bankruptcy, she had to go back to Dubai under a heavy load of disappointment. She decided to start over in Canada but her brain had a surprise in store for her.

Here is her story with her own words: (text edited by #AStoryofthoughts )

I left Dubai with a diagnosis of Recurrent Depression and Generalized Anxiety , landed in Canada with a strong will for starting over and big plans for a fresh start.

Following my arrival and due to the jet lag and the difference in time zones, I miscalculated the intake of my antidepressant pills, and this is where it all began. I started having a manic episode and I had no awareness of it whatsoever. Just like that, in a glimpse, I started “losing it”. I had no control over my thoughts, my perception of reality and my will to live.

For 2 days, I lost 7 years of my life from memory and I was persuaded that I was in Syria in 2012 and that I had never left.

Any memory after that date was gone. I didn’t know who I was and who the people around me were. I attempted to kill myself several times and I was holding so much anger in.

Three days had passed when I found myself waking up in a dark empty room wearing a pale green hospital gown. In full confusion, I opened the door to realize that I was admitted to a Mental Health Center.

I Stayed there for 3 nights and 4 days, I counted it by the minute. I was sedated most of the time and it was hard for me to communicate efficiently with my family members who were frightened and never left the phone.

The following months, five to be exact, I spent my time “doctor shopping”. I was trying hard to find the right doctor who could explain to me, in medical terms what had happened to me and hopefully give me the right diagnosis and treatment. All of this uncertainty was feeding my anxiety.

Not knowing what’s wrong with me and how to deal with it, kept me living with the fear of loosing my mind again. I had no faith in my own capabilities and the feeling of being my own enemy was torturing me.

But, with persistence and exhaustive research, I was able to find a doctor who was trustworthy and comforting. He diagnosed me with Bipolar syndrome. The sound of it was one of the biggest shocks of my life and of course, accepting it, understanding it and trusting my brain again took me a while. With 5 pills a day and with an important amount of will and courage, and of course with the support of my family and loved ones, I learned that I am not just another Bipolar individual.

The love of the people around me and their support, made me realize that I am still ME. This thought came to me as a revelation and it allowed me to connect with myself on a deeper level.

Till this day, the doctors still cannot confirm the reason behind this memory and awareness loss episode. They still debate if it was because of the high amount of medication I took or if it was the harsh life events that I was going through at that time or if it was in me all along, waiting to explode.

A mental illness diagnosis is not confirmed with some lab tests and a clinical exam only. It takes a long time for the professionals to understand your life and your history and to gather information. All of this was triggering my anxiety even more.

Despite all the psychological pain and the confusion, I went through the storm and I managed to get my Diploma in Writing for Film&TV. Waking up was a whole different story but I managed to leave bed everyday and go to school then go to work. I wrote a fantasy Feature film script, something I never thought I could do. I also had a job and found my very own apartment. I lived on my own and survived. I also met new friends and our bond is growing stronger by the day. Not all days have rainbows and butterflies and I still fear a second nervous breakdown.

I still do not trust myself completely. When I see myself happy, I get anxious as I fear it might be a maniac episode but I am learning to understand my emotions and to trust what is real.

It took me a lot of courage to share all this but I have a strong reason to. I would like these words to support anyone struggling with mental illness. We have nothing to hide. If you are an employer, a teacher or a friend, be kind and considerate, be gentle as anyone around you could be going though a lot. Understand this and offer your support and be flexible with the rules when it comes to being on time. Take a ride with us and enjoy the ups and downs.

Today I am not bipolar, I am Rand.

Don’t leave just yet. Have a read here on the fear of therapy

Photo was taken by Rand Hadid in her bedroom, the morning before it all started happening.


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