Preferred name: Maria
Age at Interview: 47
Age at diagnosis: 19
Background: Maria is single and lives alone in an outer suburb of a metropolitan city. She was born in Australia and identifies as having a Greek background. Maria currently works part-time in the mental health sector.
When Maria was 19, she received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She has spent time in mental health units and tried a variety of medications. Maria sees a psychiatrist, psychologist and a GP, and is currently prescribed a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic medication. Her psychiatrist is supporting Maria to gradually reduce her dosages over time.
More about Maria
Maria explained that she has experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety throughout her life, but said these symptoms became more acute in her late teens after she experienced difficulties with stress and time management at school. She said her family was 'too controlling' when she was young and there was just 'too much stress and study.' This led to Maria's symptoms worsening, and she said that when she was 19 and in her second year of university, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Maria described feeling 'angry and upset and inconsolable' before and after the news of the diagnosis and said that she was admitted to hospital after she 'couldn't cope.' Her hospital stay was a 'dreadful experience' and a 'trauma.' Maria attributed this to other patients on the ward who were 'really sick compared to how [she] was' and said she found it confronting having to interact with 'strange people' in hospital.
Maria is currently prescribed a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic medication. She said that she has not been back to hospital for the last six years, and attributed this to her medication which she says makes her feel 'really stable' and enables her to 'work now.' Maria described how she has been on 'countless other medications' and finding the right one has been a process of 'trial and error' from the beginning. She also described requesting electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). She underwent the treatment twice and said on both occasions she found this 'helped [her] condition.'
Maria has established relationships with a GP and a psychologist with whom she has regular appointments. She also sees a psychiatrist. Recently, Maria asked her GP for a reduction in her mood stabiliser medication, which she has been taking for over 20 years, citing physical side effects as the main reason. Her GP agreed to the request. Maria said she would now like to discuss her antipsychotic with her psychiatrist because she is wondering 'in the long run what sort of problems [she's] going to have health-wise'.
Maria explained that she had been 'discharged' from a community mental health service which provided mental health assistance and a case manager. She described this as having 'mum's apron strings' cut, and said it left her feeling 'sort of scared.' However, Maria explained that good friends, her current medication, better time management, and writing all helped with her recovery, and that she and her family were 'closer now.' She said her mental health issues were currently 'a very small part of [her] life.'