Today is Time to Talk Day, Time to Change charity’s annual day to talk about our mental health. This year, I decided I wanted to share my story with a local newspaper to my community, the Jewish community in the UK and beyond online. This is also for people who aren’t Jewish and so I am sharing it here. I havnt shared the full article due to SEO reasons but there is a link at the end to the full article!
Remember- its ok to talk about mental health… to loved ones and beyond. It took me a long time to share my story and sharing publicly is not for everyone. I hope the article helps you feel less alone:
(image: Eleanor Segall)
Time To Talk Day, marked on 1 February, gives everyone the opportunity to open up about mental health. It’s a subject close to my heart, because it took me 11 years to talk openly about the fact I have bipolar disorder and anxiety.
My story begins in 2003, when, aged 15, I experienced an episode of depression, anxiety and psychosis, where your mind loses touch with reality.
I wasn’t sleeping, my heart would suddenly race, I would cry and have regular panic attacks and couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was incredibly frightened and exhausted.
My parents, as well as teachers at Immanuel College, were hugely supportive and understanding and I sought help from a psychiatrist for the first time.
But that year, while on Israel Tour with my youth group, I also experienced a manic episode and had to come home early. I felt so ashamed, even though it was not my fault that my mind wasn’t well.
My madricha (youth leader) was an incredible support to me and I thank her to this day for all she did to make sure I was safe and well.
Months later, when I started studying for my A-levels, I had a further severe depressive episode.
For the next four months, I was kept in hospital and, aged just 16, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar affective 1 disorder (formerly known as manic depression), which causes both depressive and ‘high’ manic episodes.
The disorder can be medicated and therapy helps, but it’s about finding the right medication and support, which can take a while for each person.
For the next 10 years, I managed my condition and in that time achieved A-levels, went to university and travelled.
But when I turned 25, I again found myself spiralling into illness with a bipolar manic episode.
People suffering with this can have racing thoughts, reckless behaviour, increased activity and movement and delusions, which can, in the worst cases, turn into psychosis. This is what happened to me.
Through no fault of my own, I was back in hospital again. It was extremely frightening. Owing to the severity of the mania, I couldn’t see how ill I was and felt incredibly vulnerable.
At that time, I had no idea if I could recover and get back to some kind of normal life again. It affected everything and even when I began dating, I felt I had to hide my condition.