by Lisa Ng

Wellington track

In August 2014 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2. I quickly accepted the fact that I was bipolar, to be honest I was shouting it out to the world, since I was hypomanic. It has been a roller-coaster ride dealing with bipolar, going from depression to hypomania to clinical depression to mania over the past couple of years.

16th of February 2016 I ended up in the emergency department in Wellington, then became an in-patient at Te Whare o Matairangi (psychiatric ward) for my manic episode. I had a fantastic consulting psychiatrist and I finally received the right medication nearly 2 years later, and now re-diagnosed to bipolar mixed state.

Over the past couple of years, I have had bad experiences with the local New Zealand Mental Health Services. Due to the bad experiences I made a decision in March to do research into bipolar disorder. I knew I wanted to publish my research; I decided that doing a Master’s thesis would be the best approach. During April I started setting up meetings with different University lecturers to talk to them about my idea of researching the use of wearable devices to monitor bipolar disorder, and what the best approach would be. I also contacted companies that were in the e-health business to see if I could work with them or partner up for my thesis.

I started off wanting to study genomics, neurology and use of technology to monitor bipolar. Part of the reason for this, is I personally research anything and everything related to bipolar, for me the more knowledge the better. This quickly got refined to using technology to monitor bipolar, as I previously studied a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and thought it better to utilize my IT skill set.

After talking to several higher education providers, I decided that Wellington Institute of Technology (Weltec) would be the most suitable education provider for me. I learn best by ‘doing’ and polytechnic is more suited to my learning style. I had been down the university route for my Bachelor of Science, and found it was a struggle as universities tend to be less hands-on and more theory-based learning.

Wanting to know more about Patient Portals and Manage My Health (New Zealand’s e-health and e-records system) I contacted Richard Medlicott Wellington’s e-health/Patient Portals ambassadors. I spoke with him about my plans to research the use of wearables in monitoring bipolar disorder. Richard advised me to contact Melon Health as they would be a good company suited to the research I would be doing.

So I arranged a coffee meeting with Siobhan Bulfin the Founder/CEO of Melon Health to find out more about Melon Health and discuss my plans for my research. We hit it off instantly, Siobhan was interested in what I was doing and I thought Melon Health would be a great company to work with/for. They already had an e-health service and tracking platform that I could build upon with my research.

Over the past 2 years of dealing with bad experiences in mental healthcare it has motived me to pursue a career in healthcare to make a difference to New Zealand’s Healthcare System. I would like to thank my in-patient consulting psychiatrist (see my blog on ‘Appreciating the Positive Experiences in Healthcare’) and Richard MacManus’) author of ‘Trackers – How Technology is Helping Us Monitor & Improve our Health’, who are my main inspiration for my return to study for my Masters and making a difference in the mental health sector.

Next week I start my Master of Information Technology at Weltec and start as an intern for Melon health. I am looking forward to working with Melon Health as a Data Science Intern, patient expert and on my Master’s thesis project.

We can look at our bad experiences as positives or negatives. I’ve decide to look at my bad experiences as positives and create opportunities out of them, by adding value to the New Zealand Mental Health System.

Wellington Road at dusk