Tshidi Khumbane was diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder 12 years ago. Before her diagnosis she did not understand why she never felt in control of her emotions, which fluctuated between extreme happiness and at other times severe depression.
I was feeling like crying, being short tempered and just negative to everyone. Feeling like everybody hates me. I was suicidal.
I was always tired, headaches, sometimes black outs you see. And then I said no. This has been going on for almost two years and it’s not going away. Its then that I started looking for a second option and decided to consult a psychiatrist.
And then he found out I’ve got a chemical imbalance in my brain. So I need to be on medication to balance my brain so that I can function normally.
Tshidi, who at the time was studying to be a nurse and had just started her family, felt like her life was collapsing around her.
I was still young, I’m going to study, and I’ll have a brighter future. Then within a year everything was just falling apart. And then I was scared that maybe my husband won’t cope with me, he will leave me. And now my baby was still a baby by that time, he was only two years, I wasn’t coping. So I was kind of like scared to face the real world
Attending support groups for people with bipolar helped her cope and showed her that she was not alone. Now Tshidi helps to organises these groups for others with her condition.
With support groups we try and empower the mentally disabled. Teaching them how to cope with bipolar health.
Our aim is to tell the world that people with mental illness is just the same like you. They can cope like you. They can lead a normal life like you. They deserve respect, they deserve a job, they deserve to have a child.
Tshidi has since accepted her condition and now thanks to the support of others and taking her treatment, not only her moods, but also her life has stabilised.
And I have accepted my situation, I am bipolar. I’m taking my medication and I’m coping. I have a husband, I have child and everything is starting to work out for me.
With bipolar you can live a normal life. Once you take the medication, you go back to your normal life. You are just like someone who has high blood pressure or diabetic. Bipolar is manageable. You don’t have to hide it. Talk about it, tell people about it. That this is my situation.