I have been a bipolar patient (bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder) for the last eight years and it was only one year back that I was declared as having recovered.
My psychiatrist has seen me in the worst possible conditions and has supported me through thick and thin.
The eight years, during which he treated me, were very stressful for all of us. He often went out of the way to help me. He had faith in my abilities and still tells my father that my habits, like sleeping late, will go away and I just need time.
After this short background, I’ll come to the day of the incident. I went to the Vice Chancellor of a prestigious university to finalise an event. I saw my psychiatrist in the VC’s chamber. I was nervous and feared he might judge me since I knew I still made silly behavioural mistakes. Nevertheless, I went in.
There, I consciously tried to sound like a confident, rational, composed and ‘stable’ person. I wanted him to see and notice me since he was sitting near me. I presented our event, talked to the VC and even briefed other doctors sitting close to me. All through this, I noticed that I was being observed.
In the end, before going out, the accompanying doctor had some work with the VC and I got a spare minute. My doctor said, “It makes me proud.”
I had no words. The fact that someone was proud of you, your achievement and the struggle you went through simply made me experience joy. That was the instance when I realised what the ‘joy of giving’ is all about.
Making a doctor proud of you and seeing the glow on his face. I could tell that he meant it. There was no need for him to say this, or for me to have been so touched, but those 10 minutes were happy moments. I wanted to look good and behave well so that he may feel that the boy who had come to him long ago had now matured. He had to get this message and I hope he liked it. I realised it later that it was my deliberate effort to highlight the changes in me that made him proud.
My last eight years included running away from my home thrice, four major suicide attempts, numerous cases of self-inflicted harm, weeks of lying on the bed, rehabilitation treatment for drugs, and several other incidents. That day, all of it flashed in front of me and I was smiling with pride. I congratulated myself – for the first time – on having overcome this very rough patch. And I felt grateful for having lived through the terror to see this day. Those few moments of pride were priceless.
Inspired by my own struggle, I started an initiative on mental health but I share this especially because it can help someone who is in need of a practical example of the phrase “there is light at the end of the tunnel”.