Quality of life in bipolar disorder can be defined in several ways. For a more complicated research perspective, take a look at the first few pages of this book chapter. What I’m going to draw out of that discussion for this particular post is the idea that all life domains are affected by physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. By life domains I mean things like work, sleep, home life, finances, etc. So quality of life, in that sense, is how well or how poorly you perceive your own life domains, and this matters a lot in bipolar disorder. But what does quality of life mean to someone with bipolar?
For some background, CREST.BD designed a quality of life assessment scale specifically for bipolar disorder; you can now take the questionnaire online at www.bdqol.com and learn more about the domains at the BD Wellness Centre. To enjoy the full scope of this research and these tools, let me provide some food for thought:
Before research initiatives to assess quality of life in bipolar disorder, quality of life was rarely considered an important part of recovery.
Imagine, if you will, you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The doctors you see immediately put you on medication and you follow-up with them until you’ve “stabilized.” Once you’re stable, you get check-up appointments every once in a while. Otherwise, you’re on your own. That’s just one example, and there are many variations. But before research initiatives to assess quality of life in bipolar disorder, quality of life was rarely considered an important part of recovery. Unfortunately, the case where biological treatment is the only treatment still exists. The psychosocial initiatives CREST.BD is dedicated to is helping people recover from their illnesses so they can continue to lead fulfilling lives.
Because of things like the bipolar specific quality of life assessment that CREST.BD has created, I have evidence to show to everyone that my mental health is part of my mental illness treatment.
Most importantly, researching quality of life recognizes that people with bipolar do have and can obtain a good quality of life. While I certainly don’t speak for everyone, acknowledging that living a healthy and happy life helps keep me stable is the crux of my wellness. Because of things like the bipolar specific quality of life assessment that CREST.BD has created, I have evidence to show to everyone that my mental health is part of my mental illness treatment. It wasn’t too long ago when this wasn’t the case. And, unfortunately, many people still don’t get that kind of treatment. But seeing that quality of life is a core research area for CREST.BD, this will hopefully change.
There is a lot of stigma out there dictating what people with bipolar are and are not able to do. Having research that says I deserve to have good quality of life is phenomenally important for fighting self, social, and structural stigma. Everyone deserves to be happy and healthy. Everyone deserves to achieve wellness in the face of illness.
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