I’m not on drugs… I’m having a manic episode

Eighteen years ago, my mum took me to our local doctor, concerned about my sudden strange behaviour since finishing my final high school exams.  Taking one look at me, his first reaction was to tell Mum that I was obviously under the influence of drugs.

When she told him she didn’t think I would take drugs (which I never have) – he made a sarcastic remark about parents like her having “no idea at all.”

Three days later, after ordering brain scans, CAT scans and a battery of other medical tests, the local hospital concluded I was having my first acute manic  episode.

This incident sprung to mind today as I read an article in the Shepparton News about HeadSpace – Australia’s youth mental health foundation – running courses in country Victoria next month to help parents identify and intervene early with the mental health needs of their children.

As Headspace says to parents and carers on their website: “Recognising signs is the first step toward getting [your children] help.”

I couldn’t agree more.

If it wasn’t for my parents and then boyfriend (now my loving husband!) – my local GP may have dismissed the signs of my first manic episode as a teenager experimenting with drugs.  It was my parents who told him of my family history of Bipolar Disorder and the incredible stress I’d been under the weeks prior during Year 12 exams.

As parents, we are our children’s advocates:  if they start wheezing, we take them to the Doctor.  If they are struggling at school, we book a time to speak to their teacher.  So why wouldn’t we be on the lookout for signs that they are struggling with depression, anxiety or displaying other out of character behaviours.

Nobody knows our children better than us.  And we need to be aware of the symptoms of mental illness and take them seriously.

Parents in Shepparton know this better than most.  Despite the idyllic setting, this regional centre has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in Victoria.  They have learnt that mental illness is the hidden killer.

Mariska xx

Check out Headspace’s excellent mental health resources for parents and youth at www.headspace.org.au


3 thoughts on “I’m not on drugs… I’m having a manic episode”

  1. I was accused of being on drugs by a coworker one time. I ended up in the office of the big boss, defending myself and telling them that I did not take drugs. The co-worker that reported me had never met me before and I only had a short verbal exchange with her.
    The meeting with the bosses ended with the boss lady doing an imitation of me, as the co-worker described to her. It was very offensive and I find it hard to believe that it was that bad.They never did believe me that I was not on drugs and the meeting ended with “We’ll be watching you!”
    I have learned from that incident that the best thing to do , is to avoid any interaction with people I do not know, am not sure like me, etc. And if I must interact with them at work, to speak when spoken to and keep my responses short.
    I never have trouble doing my job and most all of my co-workers think I am very good to work with, no matter what state I am in. Manic or not. They just think I am a but wired and talkative when I am manic. (I have bipolar 2)
    I am new to learning about bipolar and this is the very first time, I heard of anyone other than me, being accused of doing drugs, when they were manic. So now I know that it can happen, because people jump to conclusions and they do not take time to find out if there could be more possibilities for something they observe than the first thing that pops into their heads (They must be a drug addict)
    Thank you for the post

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