‘How my life became a living hell’ Published: May 30, 2009
HOPEFUL: Durban nurse Rosanna Ramnandan has made 30 attempts to end her life as a result of being affected by bipolar disorderPicture: JACKIE CLAUSEN Article Tools Save and Share
IT WAS a failed relationship that led a young nurse to attempt to take her life about 30 times.
It was also this lowest point of Rosanna Ramnandan’s life that led her to discover that she suffered from bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterised by epi- sodes of emotional highs and lows.
“I was constantly depressed and had terrible mood swings. I tried every method possible to kill myself, including taking high doses of insulin intravenously.
“When my relationship ended, I slumped into the lowest of lows. It took me months to recover and I now find it difficult to trust men,” said
Ramnandan, 32, who is one of several South Africans who this week took a stand to raise awareness of the illness on Bipolar Day, which was observed internationally on Tuesday this week.
The disorder affects between three to four percent of the South African population. However the figure is believed to be much higher as the condition is largely undiagnosed.
Ramnandan said she began presenting signs of depression during her matric year, but never thought it was a serious issue.
“My family doctor diagnosed me as manic depressive. But I never took it seriously and thought that it would pass. My condition worsened where I sometimes felt withdrawn and at other times felt invincible, which got me into a lot of trouble.
“I found comfort in shopping. I had no limits and the debts piled up. I am currently under debt review where I have spent close to R200000 and am unable to account for it.”
Ramnandan said she also had to overcome her family’s initial difficulty in accepting her illness, which compounded her depressive state.
“At first, my parents did not understand what I was going through and found it difficult to accept my erratic behaviour. They did not want to tell people about my condition and insisted that I did not mention anything about the disorder, especially to family members.
“The fact that I was diagnosed with a mental illness was enough for them to feel embarrassed. But I eventually made them understand that there was no reason to hide it from the world.”
Her employer, she said, also victimised her when she informed them of her condition.
“Being a healthcare professional, you would think that my colleagues would understand my situation and be more supportive. But that was not the case. I was victimised, teased, threatened and asked to resign.”
She claimed a senior matron at one of the hospitals she worked at threatened to hire her private lawyer to have Ramnandan “kicked out” of the profession.
“They called me “bipolar” instead of by my name. It was humiliating. But I managed to overcome the verbal abuse and persevered.”
Spokesman for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), Cassey Amoore said: “Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life, but it can start at any age and affects men and women, irrespective of race and religion.”