Paul's Story

Paul is 55 years old. He is in a state of panic, anxious, and suicidal when he comes to the Douglas Institute emergency around midnight one night. Dr. Serge Beaulieu, a specialist in bipolar disorders, is on duty that night and meets Paul.

Dr. Beaulieu speaks with Paul. He learns that Paul is taking a cocktail of medication. He also learns that Paul is a former substance abuser who is in the midst of a relapse after 10 years of sobriety.

At one point in his life, Paul became very depressed and was treated by doctors who prescribed him antidepressants. They did not really work, and his condition became worse. He was prescribed more medication, and the cycle aggravated itself.

That night, Paul is exhausted. “I want help. I don’t want to kill myself. But, my head is moving at 100 miles per hour. And I can’t organize my own thoughts.” This is all Dr. Beaulieu needed to hear. He takes away certain pills, and increases Paul’s dosage of others; he tells Paul to come back the next evening. When Paul arrives, he is already better.

One year later, Paul is still being followed by Dr. Beaulieu. He only takes two types of pills and is learning to live with and manage his bipolar disorder.

This story shows the importance of both immediate and long-term intervention and care. We know, however, that bipolar disorders are often diagnosed late because people either hesitate to seek treatment or are misdiagnosed when they do. However, as this story shows, they are illnesses that are treatable and possible to manage.

Hope for people like Paul exists thanks to institutions like the Douglas. Imagine what Paul’s life could have been like had he received a correct diagnosis from the beginning. That’s why sharing knowledge and best practices between front-line and second-line workers and practitioners is one of the mandates of the Douglas Institute.