Our first speaker was from Cape Mental Health. This organisation’s range of influence and heart blew me away. They focus on ABILITY rather than DISABILITY. They work with individuals with intellectual disabilities and psychiatric disabilities. They have support groups throughout Cape Town where people meet once a week. They are deeply involved in advocacy for individuals with disabilities and also have training centres. They equip individuals with skills to be included in the work environment. They also focus on awareness and education concerning mental health and acceptance thereof. They have all sorts of ways for you to get involved, including the latest kite festival that was held in Muizenberg.
Get more info on them at www.capementalhealth.co.za
A discussion arose about diagnosis. The fact that not enough time is taken to diagnose bipolar disorder in patients and the possibility of standardizing diagnosis. We also discussed how misdiagnosis so easily creeps in when not enough time is taken for individual diagnosis. Mismedication often becomes the result of this hasty diagnosis. I am sure some of you have either experienced this yourselves or know someone who has.
According to SADAG, 80 % of misdiagnosed, mismedicated and unsupported individuals with mental illness commit suicide. That is a startling statistic! But if I think back to when I was in that position, it is a pretty accurate reflection of how one feels when all you see is darkness. What the movement also aims to do regarding early detection, is broadening the research regarding bipolar research in teenagers. Since this age group is the largest when you think about suicides. Cross medication also came up in this discussion as well as incorrect medication. Another buzz word in the mental health field is Ritalin. Discussions ended with the fact that diagnoses are made without looking at the child’s personality and individual eating habits, home life etc. Therefore when Ritalin is given to children it may dampen their natural spirits. This is of course if and when they don’t really need it.
A representative of Crossfit gym spoke to us about health and nutrition. Now if there is one thing that diagnosed individuals hear non-stop it is this – Exercise!! A very interesting point was made about how inactive we become after our school years. That is why the gym is so important.
Then something came up that made me cringe. SUGAR. Sugar hijacks the brain’s reward system and the result is… feel-good hormones. Oh why why why? I prefer chocolate’s happy hormones as opposed to the gym’s ones. Information was given about the link between our blood sugar levels and our moods. I found this to be very true. (Hence – Sorry for what I said when I was hungry )
Another brilliant point was that we have veered so far from the natural way of life. Hunting for our food (exercise) and gathering our food (exercise). Which is why we need to get those muscles working again. Our bodies were not designed to be couch potatoes. (preaching to myself).
A fool proof combination for wellbeing was given– nutrition, exercise and good decision making skills. Exercise showed the biggest results. Which reminds me – I have neglected the gym for long enough.
Our next speaker was from Nature Fresh and spoke about alternatives with dealing with Bipolar Disorder. Interesting questions were raised by the speaker, which could aid in individualised diagnosis. They included the following: What type of person has the disorder? What type of patient are you (what other deficiencies do you have, are you taking other medication?) How far are you on the spectrum of ups and downs?
A variety of conversations arose about how we fail to ingest our daily vitamins and minerals which can mess with our everyday health. A simple example of making a difference in your diet is eating a banana and an apple instead of potato chips. Especially for kids lunch boxes. We were told that everything has a role in the body, and this should obviously be considered in moderation when eating anything. (uuuhhhmmm Banting was referred to, hehe) Medication was said to be a kind of Trojan Horse. I like that description as I have had my share of run-ins with side effects and taking more meds for those. What I took from this discussion was this… we are in constant fight for balance. The heart is always watching and the mind is always listening. If we think of all the hogwash we feed our minds we can most surely understand why our minds get so fearful.
NOW!! Our last topic was about Face Bipolar, the movement. This will be a social platform where individuals can log in and anonymously upload all sorts of information about themselves. Moods can be tracked, exercise, eating habits, episodes, etc All the sorts of information that you would like to track and view.
The beauty of this social platform is that medical professionals will be able to offer help. And it’s all anonymous until you choose to change that. This will offer cost effective counselling, an educative platform, holistic approach and assistance in wide spread support.
The problem with the mental health field is that there isn’t nearly enough research done. Therefore we run into hurdles like the wrong medication or misdiagnosis and choosing which side-effects you are okay to live with.
Therefore, Face Bipolar aims to aid in research and solve problems. Just imagine if there is a place where researchers can go to, that is basically a database of bipolar patients’ moods, eating habits, episodes, medication…. Anything they could want. Face Bipolar wants to help psychiatry and psychology so they can help us!