Let's talk about being sad

Sadag launches #LetsTalkBipolar campaign to debunk myths around this mental disorder

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As Bipolar Awareness Day approaches on Sunday May 26, it is important to talk about and beat this important mental health issue.

US singer and songwriter Bebe Rexha recently revealed that she has bipolar disorder.

“For the longest time, I didn’t understand why I felt so sick,” Rexha tweeted.

“Why I felt lows that made me not want to leave my house or be around people and why I felt highs that wouldn’t let me sleep, wouldn’t let me stop working or creating music. Now I know why.”

She then went on to say “I’m bipolar and I’m not ashamed anymore.”

Other famous faces who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, includes Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, Mel Gibson, Russel Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jean-Claude van Damme to name a few.

For Bipolar Awareness Day, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) are launching #LetsTalkBipolar campaign to debunk the myths around bipolar disorder, encourage people to seek help and join free support groups in their area.

It notes that bipolar disorder affects up to 1% of the population in SA – which sounds like a low number, but when you take in consideration that there are more than 56 million people in SA, 1% is a large number.

People living with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings, from a high that feels like you are on top of the world, to a very deep depression, that impacts on their daily functioning, including work, home and relationships.

Bipolar disorder is more than just mood swings. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation about bipolar disorder, especially the stigma which prevents a lot of people from seeking help or disclosing their diagnosis.

Therefore Sadag will be creating awareness, sharing tips, tools and free resources for people living with bipolar disorder, as well as loved ones and family members via Sadag’s Twitter handle, @TheSADAG, and Facebook page – The South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

Sadag will also be launching an online bipolar survey to gather more data and better understand the challenges and treatments that people living with bipolar disorder experience.

This research will help Sadag create better support programmes, information and advocate for better patient treatment in SA.

To access the survey, go to www.sadag.org or follow our social media platforms. The final research report will be published at the end of June 2019.

To learn more about bipolar disorder and how to manage symptoms, understand treatment, avoid triggers and preventing relapse, Sadag is hosting a #FacebookFriday FREE online Q&A on bipolar disorder with expert psychiatrists Dr Lavinia Lumu and Dr Carina Marsay on Friday May 24 at 1pm and 7pm.

Some of Sadag’s support groups will be hosting special meetings in the next couple of weeks with expert speakers talking about key issues, such as medication FAQs, managing bipolar disorder, and support for the family members, etc.

For more information about upcoming support group talks, please visit www.sadag.org or e-mail supportgroups@anxiety.org.za.

It is very important for Sadag to understand how to help patients and families more in order to encourage more people to get help and break the stigma attached to bipolar disorder.

“On days like these we often share statistics and even new campaigns but this year it all about you! It’s about lending a hand to a family member, neighbour, friend or even a stranger that you think is suffering with bipolar disorder.”

Sadag has various support groups throughout Port Elizabeth which hold weekly meetings.

These groups support people living with mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, substance abuse and more.

To join a support group in your area, please e-mail supportgroups@anxiety.org.za.

If you are worried about a friend, family member or loved who may be struggling to cope and in need of support, you can contact a counsellor at Sadag on our various toll-free helplines for free telephone counselling, information and referrals on 0800-456-789 or 0800-212-223, or visit www.sadag.org.

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