Tarun Kanti Gayen, our clinical psychologist, will answer readers' questions about relationship crisis and mental health. Submit yours at [email protected]
(Q) I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 15. I am 23 now. My life seems to be painful journey that I cannot toss out. My working parents have never been emotionally supportive, nor did they understand the disease. Sometimes, I would become furious at them for this. Things only have worsened since then. Now they have completely stopped bothering about my problems.
I feel lonely and suffocated at home. I have no siblings as well. At the university, I usually end up being at a corner because I have almost no socialising skills. I want my family to have my back. Help me out!
(A) I do understand your situation, and strongly agree that your parents need an orientation and understanding of your disorder. It is their responsibility to know clearly what is the challenge of an individual with bipolar disorder – how she may suffer with the manic and depressive episodes; and how her emotional intelligence can get blurred and chaotic as a result.
It is not clear whether you are under any psychiatric consultation or not. If you are, that is good; if not, you should visit a psychiatrist and start having medication. The medication may take a long time, but it should not be avoided. Without medicine you cannot arrest your disease.
You also can request your psychiatrist to have a talk with your parents. Besides medication, you certainly need to do something about your low socialising skills and loneliness too. Consult a clinical psychologist who can guide you through the psychological difficulties that you face due to your disorder. At the end, I appreciate your courage to endure the pain of your condition and seeking help.
(Q) I am a businessman. My wife teaches at a school. Our only daughter is 14-year old and a student of grade seven. A few months back, she went to meet one of her online friends from school without informing us. When we found out, she lied to us. Since then, both my wife and I have been noticing that she has a tendency to lie. She lies about every small thing – sometimes even big lies. Her class teacher has complained about her habit of lying in the school. We have tried to counsel her at home, also tried being strict with her. Nothing has helped so far. How do we cope with this problem? We do not want our child to grow up with wrong values.
(A) Your daughter may question rules at home and at school. As she reaches for more freedom, she begins to pull away from you. This is normal as she learns how to be more independent. Keeping this in mind, let us understand why does she lie?
Every lie has a purpose. If she was open with you about everything – regardless of 'right' and 'wrong' – what would be your response? If you want her to be honest, you must ensure her an emotionally safe environment. If their truths are met with sarcasm and punishment, then lying would be a common practise.
In this turbulent phase of her development and identity-seeking, she needs quality time from both of you. Be a friend to her and she will confide in you most of her secrets. Assert your family values having a good parent-daughter relationship. If things have gone too far, consider talking with parents of her peers and teachers concerned, too. A tripartite understanding can equip you all with the requisite means to address this issue.
Tarun Kanti Gayen is an adjunct faculty at the department of clinical psychology, University of Dhaka. He is also the acting general secretary of Bangladesh Clinical Psychology Society (BCPS).