Naomi’s Story

Naomi is only 23 years-old when she first presents herself at the Douglas.

Her family history is a difficult one. When she was 15, her father killed himself (it is thought that he was suffering from a bipolar disorder). Her mother was extremely anxious and unable to function. Her younger brother had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and exhibited behavioural problems. Despite everything, Naomi managed to complete high school and get herself on the right track

That is, until she got her first job. She then suffered a major depressive episode. She saw a doctor who tried to help her to the best of his ability, but who eventually decided that it would be best for her to see specialists at the Douglas. Naomi is welcome by the evaluation team, who take down her psychiatric history. They refer her to the bipolar disorders programme, where it is confirmed that she is indeed suffering from this type of illness.

Naomi is distressed, yet she refuses any treatment that is offered to her. In other words, she refuses to accept her diagnosis, like many young people with mental illness. In the beginning, Naomi disappears for a few months only to reappear when she could no longer tolerate her suffering. During this time, she has a child. Little by little, as a therapeutic alliance develops between her and the Douglas team that was treating her, Naomi becomes more and more compliant with her therapy. The right medication is found and Naomi works hard to accept her illness.

A Happy Ending

After 5 years of turmoil, Naomi finally enters a period of stability. Confident that he could be helped, Naomi convinces her brother to also seek treatment. Having followed his sister’s advice, today he is quite stable and studying at university.

This story shows the importance of taking charge of an illness from its beginning in order to avoid relapses that could be destructive to a person. Prevention of onset and acceptance of diagnosis are key in the treatment of bipolar disorders. And medication alone is not enough – psychotherapy, the patient’s efforts to get better, and the support of a multidisciplinary team are also essential.

Naomi’s story also sheds lights on the importance of detecting a mental illness in the family of sufferers. Naomi’s child is at risk, and practitioners working with Naomi have this in mind. Indeed, prevention is one of the mandates of the Douglas Institute.

Relevant Link

A promising new approach to treating bipolar disorder