Bipolar Minds Matter: CEO of Bipolar UK and Co-Chair of the Bipolar Commission, both reflect on UK Government Mental Health Funding Announcement.

(image: Sway Communications)

Simon Kitchen, CEO of UK mental health charity Bipolar UK, says: 

“Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister that mental health will receive £40.2 million in funding is a positive step in the right direction for the one in four adults experiencing mental illness in the UK.

Although the Government funding announcement does not include bipolar specifically, we are hopeful that the high prevalence and the enormous burden of the condition will mean the bipolar research community receives much needed boost from this announcement.

The Bipolar Commission Report we took to policy makers on 8th November, found that bipolar accounts for 17% of the total burden of mental health but traditionally only received 1.5% of mental health research funding. This needs to change.

There are over a million people living with bipolar in the UK and every day one person with the condition takes their own life. Ensuring bipolar gets its fair share of mental health research funding is critical for reducing the 9.5 years it takes on average to get a diagnosis and for improving patient outcomes.   

Bipolar UK is the collective voice for people living with bipolar. Our clear position is that it is vital those living with the condition have as many treatment options available to them as possible and receive greater continuity of care so they can have a better quality of life.

It is possible for everyone with bipolar to live well and fulfil their potential.

Strong long-term relationships between individual clinicians and patients is a critical factor in this and there are currently not enough specialists in bipolar in the UK which leads to symptoms often being missed.

People living with bipolar have a suicide risk that’s 20 times higher than people without bipolar, a figure that could be significantly reduced with adequate funding.

There are more than a million people with bipolar in the UK — 30% more than those with dementia and twice as many as those with schizophrenia. Millions more are impacted through close friends and family.

Re-allocation of the funding that is already available will provide a significant improvement to people’s lives which is why we are asking for bipolar to be seen as a standalone mental health condition that requires its own share of the overall funding allocated to mental health.

People can live well with bipolar, but only if they have access to a clinician who knows them, their symptoms, their triggers, medical history, their family situation and their living arrangements to ensure on-going, effective care.”

(image: Bipolar UK: Simon Kitchen, CEO with this pledge )

Dr Guy Goodwin, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Oxford and co-chair of The Bipolar Commission adds: “I have been treating people with bipolar for more than 40 years. Over that time, I have frequently been astonished by the stories of patients who have been poorly served by services ostensibly designed to help them live better lives.

“Bipolar accounts for 17% of the total burden of disease attributable to mental illness and yet there is no priority given to its specialist treatment in policy documents produced by the Department of Health.

“Instead, since the 1999 National Service Framework, bipolar has been lumped into policy documents as the invisible twin of schizophrenia. Worse still, bipolar gets a mere 1.5% of research resources.

Ignorance of the price paid for this policy neglect is no longer a defence.”

Please go to bipolaruk.org/bipolarcommission to read more about the work of the commission, fighting to get fair funding for bipolar disorder- Bipolar Minds Matter.

Petition with Bipolar UK: Speed up Bipolar Diagnosis to Save Lives. Lets Talk Bipolar by Eleanor

(image: Bipolar UK charity)

Please sign this petition to the NHS to speed up bipolar diagnosis to save lives. As I write in my book, my Dad Mike was diagnosed 9 years after he got ill and just 4 years before me. I believe I was only diagnosed at 16 years old because my Dad received his diagnosis. Additionally, my Dad was pushed to the brink of suicidal ideation (thoughts and plans of suicide) but was able to control this once he saw a psychiatrist finally after nearly 10 years- so many can’t. My Dad was saved just in time. He often says the love for his family stopped him, but for some, they are even more ill and cannot focus on this.

A new campaign by the amazing Bipolar UK charity and the new government Bipolar Commission to tell the NHS:

Speed up bipolar diagnosis to save lives
· There’s an average delay of 9.5 years between people first contacting a health professional about symptoms and getting an accurate diagnosis of bipolar
· 60% of people said this delay had a significant impact on their life
· 84% of people said a diagnosis was ‘helpful’ or ‘very helpful’

A diagnosis makes it possible for someone to get effective treatment and support, and to live well with bipolar.

It’s estimated that at least 5% of people who take their own life have a diagnosis of bipolar. The shorter the delay in diagnosis, the sooner someone can empower themselves with effective self-management and foster a positive circle with fewer relapses in both the short and long-term.

In my own family, myself and other relatives here and abroad have been diagnosed with this condition. It is so important to get correct treatment.

#letstalkbipolar

Please sign here, thank you:

Three Years of My Book ‘Bring Me To Light: Embracing My Bipolar and Social Anxiety’ by Eleanor

💜 Three years 💜

Three years ago my book ‘Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety ‘was published by Trigger and Welbeck Publishing Group💜

I hope that by sharing my story (and my Dads too) that it helps you or someone you know going through mental illness. I hope that it shone a light on the dark, gritty parts of bipolar that many will never experience. And I hope that my book also shows the happy parts; recovery, that you can live and thrive again.

Bipolar is a complex and messy condition. It can ruin lives. There is no sugar coating. But you can be well too if you can find the right balance of medication and therapy…which is trial and error.

Thank you to every person who read it, reviewed it and got in touch to tell me their own journey.😍 Please continue to share and gift it to someone who needs it.

If you havnt read my story yet; the book is available in Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith; Blackwells and is available in the USA and Europe.

Thank you to all of you who have supported me – it means the world.

Click here to get yours :

The Anxiety Train: A New Year by Eleanor

(Image: Unsplash)

Hi everyone,

I had been amazed over the summer by how much better I was doing with certain aspects of my anxiety and panic. I had a few panicky moments/ days but I was able to pick myself up and feel better quite quickly after.

At the moment though I can feel myself dipping back into anxious patterns. I had a panic attack in bed a few weeks ago, triggered by certain life stressors. Since then, I wake up flooded with anxiety and not feeling able to face the day/ feel like a doormouse and want to hibernate or hide. Sometimes this happens if I get triggered by something eg life stress or it can happen as the fluctuating rhythms of bipolar disorder. I am usually OK by late afternoon/evening but the mornings can be hard.

Change in seasons with less light, feeling extra pressures can lead my mind to try and protect me from a perceived fear due to past traumas (fear of judgement, fear of feeling exposed). This can mean that seeing people. going out a lot etc can become very difficult- welcome to social anxiety again. However, I know that this will not last forever.

This week, I had a good session with my therapist who advised me to try and take more time in the mornings to write, practise breathing and think about whats going on for me, with the aim of reducing anxiety. I do find this really hard as my default can be to shut down to look after myself (and hide away/sleep)- as my brain (subconscious) perceives a threat somewhere…

I have been through this before and come out the other side- and so I know I will be OK (and ironically, there is no need to panic over it) but its still stressful… and I just wish it wasn’t like this.

I am a person who loves routine and when I get out of a routine or pause, anxiety can flood in too.

I call it the anxiety train because it feels a bit like riding a fast train/ a roller coaster of ups and downs. It doesn’t stop fully but it can suddenly hurtle me and I have to calm myself. Its based on previous behaviour patterns that served me at a time when my brain thought it needed to protect me as a teenager and although I have had years of therapy and take medication, it can sometimes come back.

I will be alright in the end, you’ll see (Mrs Potts- beauty and the beast). I have lots of support but wanted to be honest about where I am.

We are approaching a Jewish New Year, and I pray that I will be blessed with better health and less anxiety coming (as well as good things and health for my loved ones).

Thanks for reading and allowing me to be honest,

Shana tova and only happiness. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you trust/love or Samaritans helpline. My DMs are open too,

Eleanor x

Are Workplaces Doing Enough for Mental Health in a Post-Covid Era?

(image: Mateus Campos Felipe at Unsplash)

The global coronavirus pandemic brought mental health and personal wellbeing to the forefront of our working life. As more companies return to the office, employers need to think about whether or not they are doing enough to make mental health in the workplace a priority. We speak to consumer finance startup, CapitalBean.com, to get some insight.

Workplace Mental Health Post-Covid

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted serious concerns regarding mental health and personal wellbeing,” explains Richard Allan of Capital Bean.

“With ongoing uncertainty and a heightened sense of risk, it could be argued that we were experiencing an unprecedented global mental health crisis, often with no end in sight.” 

From a workplace perspective especially, many workers were facing uncertainty regarding their job stability, redundancies and, for some, navigating an entirely new way of working and interacting with colleagues.”

“In response, many companies started to take employee mental health more seriously and implement frameworks and best practices; however, now that we are returning to normal and trying to leave Covid-19 in the past, what is the extent to which companies are keeping up with their commitment to employee mental health?”

The Return to the Office

During the Covid 19 pandemic, the majority of workers were learning how to do their jobs remotely. This presented a range of new challenges to navigate and loneliness was widely reported. Not only were people missing the daily social interactions with their colleagues, but they were also finding the blurred lines between home life and work life difficult to navigate – with people’s homes doubling up as their offices, many workers were finding it difficult to switch off and reported working more hours. 

Now that people are starting to return to the office, after adjusting to nearly three years of remote working, they are being faced with new challenges. People are finding the return to work difficult and reporting a great deal of anxiety regarding social interaction. In addition, after working from home, they are now having to juggle their home commitments alongside going to the office. Whether it is squeezing in laundry, balancing childcare, or even factoring in an extra hour for the commute, the return to the office is proving more difficult than expected for many and is causing stress and anxiety for some. Others prefer working from home, so there is a balance.

The Employer’s Role

Millions of workers are returning to the office or workplace with changed attitudes and new expectations. In order to attract and retain talent, it is important for employers to acknowledge this and respond empathetically. Many companies have included mental health in their promises to employees on return to the office but now it is their time to demonstrate that this is not merely lip service. 

Employers need to proactively introduce programmes that are promoting workplace mental wellbeing and help employees with the challenges that they are facing. It is important for workplaces to create a psychologically safe space for workers and welcome conversations surrounding mental health and support.

(image: Luis Villasmil at Unsplash)

The Great Resignation And Mental Health at Work

After the pandemic, more people than ever before started evaluating their working life and what their main priorities were. With new focus on mental wellbeing and work-life balance, workers started to question what their expectations were and what they required from their place of work. The great resignation, the mass exodus of millions of workers in 2021, left employers having to think about what they needed to offer workers to not only attract talent initially, but retain it. 

 Workers who were asked about the great resignation pinpointed lack of workplace communication, sense of belonging, employee-manager relationship and toxic environments all as reasons to leave their jobs. 

In a post-Covid era (and what should have been before this), it will fall to the employer to make sure their staff feel looked after, not just financially but also emotionally.

Employers need to make their employees feel like they are taken care of, respected and acknowledged, and that their personal wellbeing and mental health is a top priority. Going forward, this will be more important for jobseekers than free office lunches or staff drinks.

We all have mental health and it is vital this is acknowledged and cared for, and not ignored in the workplace.

This article contains links to partner organisations.

A Lovely Review Of My Book ‘Bring Me To Light’ By Deb Wilk at Living Bipolar Blog.

(image: https://www.pauladennan.com/reviews/)

Sometimes, you receive amazing book reviews on the internet and don’t realise they are there!

Yesterday, I stumbled upon Deb Wilk’s blog Living Bipolar – Deb has lived with bipolar disorder for many years and very kindly reviewed my book last year. She lives in the USA and is a talented blogger, sharing about her life living with bipolar.

I don’t always know what to expect with reviews, but this was so positive so thank you Deb for reading, enjoying and recommending my book Bring me to Light: Embracing my Bipolar and Social Anxiety. Heres some quotes from the review:

Every word, paragraph and chapter of Bring Me to Light was utterly mesmerizing.  Eleanor Segall’s account of her battle with bipolar 1, panic attacks, and crippling social anxiety is so vibrant that the reader feels as though they are experiencing it right alongside her.

I would love to describe the book in detail, but I am not going to give anything away because this book is an absolute must-read.  Anyone who is bipolar or loves someone who is, should read this story.  It is a moving narrative that anyone, even those who do not suffer with mental illness, should read.  

She is now an extremely forceful voice in the mental health community, and this accolade is incredibly well deserved.  Please read this book.  You will find it well worthwhile and, I am certain, as enthralling as I did.” (Deb Wilk, living bipolar blog)

To read more of Debs review click here

Bring me to Light is available now on Amazon and in all good bookshops (including Waterstones, W H Smith and Blackwells and is available globally).

My Interview On Life With Bipolar Disorder by Best For You NHS

(image: Best for You NHS)

The team at Best For You NHS interviewed me about my life journey with bipolar disorder and anxiety. I hope it helps anyone, particularly young people, who are struggling.

You can read the interview that I did with Annabel here. Trigger warning as discusses suicidal thoughts, being in hospital and sexual assault.!

Thank you Annabel and team!

Best for You is a new NHS programme in London to help young people and their families access mental health support We know many can’t access the support they do desperately need and CAMHS services here in the UK are overstretched. I hope that by sharing my story it helps young people feel less alone, but we desperately need more funding into childrens mental health services too!

(Images by Best for You NHS)

Eleanor x

Taking Lithium for Bipolar Disorder: Side Effects by Eleanor

Pre Lithium in 2010 (skinny minny)

Post Lithium (on my wedding day in 2019)

I first heard about Lithium carbonate, a natural salt and the ‘gold standard’ medicine for bipolar disorder, when I was in my teen years. My dad was taking it to help his bipolar episodes- Lithium is known to stabilise mood and stop mania and depression from occurring or lessening their impact. I knew then that it was quite a strong drug, that you would need blood tests and that it caused weight gain. But it really helped my dad with his illness.

Fast forward to 2004, I was just 16 and had been diagnosed with bipolar in hospital. My brain was still growing and both I and my psychiatrist were reluctant to try Lithium at that stage, so I was started on Carbamazepine, another mood stabiliser. It was only when this medicine stopped working about 10 years later in 2014, when I was struggling with suicidal depression and anxiety (which then turned into a manic episode that I was hospitalised for), that I seriously considered taking Lithium to help me, like it helped my dad.

Lithium was first found to have benefits for patients with bipolar disorder in the 1950s, with a discovery by psychiatrist John Cade. Even today, we still don’t know what causes the disorder, but it is believed that Lithium stabilises mood – particularly mania. The psychiatrist.com notes this,

The real breakthrough in lithium therapy came in 1952, when Erik Stömgren, a Danish psychiatrist and head of the Aarhus University psychiatric clinic in Risskov who had read Cade’s article, suggested to a staff psychiatrist at the hospital, Mogens Schou, that he undertake a randomly controlled study of lithium for mania. Random controls were just being introduced to psychiatric drug trials at that time, and Schou randomly assigned patients to lithium or placebo by the flip of a coin. His results were published in a British journal with the article concluding, “The lithium therapy appears to offer a useful alternative to [electr[electroconvulsive therapy] since many patients can be kept in a normal state by administration of a maintenance dose.”

For me personally, Lithium treatment has changed my life in a number of ways- both good and not so good. Lets start with the good, I havn’t had an episode of mania and psychosis or suicidal severe depression in 8 years, which is largely down to medication helping my bipolar brain chemistry. It has worked for me- which is amazing- and I never thought I would find an effective treatment to help me. I have bipolar 1, the most severe type and although Dad has the same and was helped, I never thought it would lead me to remission. In fact, in 2014 when I was under the home treatment team after hospital, one of the nurses asked me to consider whether Lithium might not work for me and I might have to live with episodes… needless to say I cried as was very fragile and asked her to leave! She was wrong, thankfully.

On to the bad things: Lithium in combination with an antipsychotic Quetaipine has caused me to put on a lot of weight, as it slows metabolism. I also have to have 3 monthly blood tests to check my lithium level is within the correct range as too much is toxic to the body. Thankfully, I drink enough water and eat enough salt so I have never had a toxic reading but its a very careful balance..I have to always look after myself. Another bad side effect is skin sensitivity and acne- Lithium causes spots- so I have had to adapt my skincare regime and diet accordingly. Sometimes certain foods plus Lithium can trigger this too. Again, I have to pay more attention to my physical health as a result of taking Lithium and Quetaipine

The weight gain in particular has been a worry for me and is something I am working on., especially as diabetes runs in my family. Then there is the Lithium thirst…

Lithium as mentioned is a salt, and as it metabolises in the body, makes you incredibly thirsty. You have to be careful not to get dehydrated. Hence my love affair with Robinsons squash and the occasional ice cold fruit juice. No matter how much I drink, I can never fully quench my thirst, even if well hydrated. Lithium thirst is not the easiest… but Robinsons is my friend as its lower in calories and more delicious than plain water! And now I am thirsty again… haha

So I have a love-hate affair with Lithium. Brilliant for my mental health, not so great for my physical health at times. There is also a concern because over time Lithium can cause kidney and thyroid issues, which is why I have blood tests too. So its not perfect, but it really helps me to live my life and have stable mental health. Over time, its important i am monitored. I have been on it 8 years, but it could start causing problems at some point.

Additionally, when I please G-d get pregnant one day, my lithium levels will need to be monitored (but thats a blog for another time).

I don’t have nausea or trembling on Lithium which is good, but the other side effects (particularly weight) have not been so pleasant. I am so grateful though to have a medicine that keeps me well and out of hospital, able to live a life that some others take for granted.

Thanks to all who voted for this blog. If theres anything else you’d like to know, just ask a question and I will respond.

Eleanor x

What To Do When You Feel Alone: by Eleanor

(image: QuoteFancy)


As I started opening this page to write this blog post, on youtube, the Jessie J live concert I was listening to flicked on to one of my favourites of hers, ‘Who You Are’.

The lyrics:

‘Don’t lose who you are

In the blur of the stars

Seeing is deceiving

Dreaming is believing

its Ok not to be OK

Sometimes its hard to follow your heart

Tears don’t mean you’re losing

Everybody’s bruising

Just stay true to who you are.’ (Jessie J)

I wanted to write a post on what to do when you feel alone. This sums it up- self care and staying true to yourself.

  1. Its ok to cry. Let the emotion out, feel the grief/fear/sadness/anger. Allow it to be present and wash over you. Crying can be healing.

2. Seek support from a loved one, someone you trust or a helpline like Samaritans. You are never truly alone even if you don’t have a supportive family or friends- though it is harder.

3. Write out your feelings on paper in a journal or talk about them with a therapist if you can access one.

4. Do a little activity to make you feel a bit happier– talk to a friend, sing, paint, write, do sport- whatever your thing is- do it.

5. Find a support group- Mind run good ones or a local charity to you.

6. Remember – these emotions, these feelings will pass like clouds eventually. This too shall pass. make sure you keep speaking, sharing and healing yourself.

7. If you are feeling very depressed or at crisis point, call a helpline or go to your GP.

8. Make sure you eat, drink and look after yourself. If this isnt possible- see point 7.

Sometimes we can all feel alone or lonely in the world. Its a part of being human. But taking small steps towards looking after ourselves and our mental health can be really helpful.

What helps you?

Eleanor x

What It’s Like To Go Through Severe Depression as a Bipolar Episode: Looking Back by Eleanor

(image of Eleanors book Bring me to Light: Eleanor Segall/ Trigger and Welbeck publishing)

TRIGGER WARNING- DISCUSSES SUICIDAL IDEATION, SELF HARM AND BIPOLAR DISORDER. PLEASE READ WITH CARE

This weekend, I went home to my mums to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover) and have some quiet, family time. It was wonderful and because our religious laws mean we don’t use the internet, our phone on our festivals, it meant I had time for digital detoxing and switching off. But with that silence, came space. To think and reflect.

Something you may not know about me is that as well as being a writer, throughout the years I have been a prolific diary (journal) writer. The act of putting pen to paper and type to keyboard has always been therapeutic for me in my darkest moments. I found a diary I had written in 2013, when I was living with depression, suicidal ideation and self harm thoughts and actions.

The journal was covered in butterflies- always my symbol of hope. I don’t want to trigger anyone so I will say this carefully- essentially, I was so unwell that for me, my symptoms were: sleeping until the afternoon with a slight break for a meal or tablets, not socialising, finding it hard to wash due to increased anxiety and lethargy, feeling like I didn’t want to wake up the next day and wanting to harm myself in various ways- but being so frightened by these thoughts (because i knew they weren’t really Eleanor) that i had to vocalise them to my family and psychiatrist to keep myself safe. Thats what I did and its why I am still here today, in recovery.

I lived with this depression for about 6 months- my psychiatrist was encouraging me to try Lithium to stablise the bipolar but I wasn’t ready and wanted to see if Quetaipine could halt that. As we know, I became hospitalised for mania soon after in 2014 which led me to recovery and writing my book Bring me to Light.

When you live with an illness like bipolar disorder, you can sometimes forget the nuances of all the details of how you were when you were unwell. For me, I always felt that I handled the depressive episodes ‘better’ than the mania- just because I was able to keep myself as safe as possible by telling my family and doctor and changing medication. My psychiatrist had to come out to see me at home with a nurse as I was so unwell and I wrote out how I felt for him to know.

So many people live with terrible episodes of depression so this blog is just looking back and giving you some knowledge of how it manifested for me. Essentially, depression is a slowing down of the mind towards inactivity, darkness, misery, anxiety, agitation and it is often triggered due to changes in hormones and brain chemistry (if you have a family history its more likely to happen). Depression is not just low mood. Its paralysing. Its not wanting to be in the world and being in so much emotional pain. You may think of ways to harm yourself and you may dream of not being in the world. Or you may be ‘high functioning’. I somehow managed to go to friends weddings during this time despite spending the other days in bed til 5pm- I have no idea how- anti depressants and support helped greatly. However, my depression was dark and invasive.


Now, I had forgotten a lot of these finer details. For me, I never truly wanted to die- I wanted the uncontrollable bipolar to go! The suicidal ideation was my bipolar brain chemistry but also an expression of not coping with life and the bipolar moods I had been given- I was 24 and I couldn’t enjoy life- i was wracked with anxiety too. My mental health was fragile and unstable and it is no way to live- but what saved me, was being hospitalised and finding medication and therapy that has helped me to live in remission (thank God) for 7 years now.

I can say now that my brain chemistry is balanced and even if i ever get sad or frustrated, I don’t have those awful thoughts and if they ever come up, I can deal with them. I have such a supportive partner and family- my family and psychiatrist saved me as well as me trying to save myself- I frightened myself with my thoughts and I had some semblance of being able to keep myself going, which is not possible for everyone. It helped that my Dad has bipolar and could really understand what was going on for me too- he understood exactly how I was feeling but he knew it was the illness and not Ellie. I feel so lucky for that because not everyone has this. My mum, step dad and sister and wider family also were so supportive and never blamed me for being unwell. That helped too. My faith also has helped me dearly,

(Me at 25 when I was going through depression. This photo was a selfie taken when I was dressed up to go to a friends wedding and my sister had done my make up. There were no photos with messy hair or red eyes and tears. I never looked this good when I was in bed til 5pm most days in my PJs).

If youve got this far thank you for reading. My mission is to help others with these conditions feel less alone, through sharing my own experiences. I have been careful not to reveal what certain thoughts were here so I don’t trigger anyone.

If you live with depression and a host of other issues, you can recover again. Hold on. You will not feel like this forever and you can find a level of happiness and stability again. Reach for help, someone you trust, a help line, a psychiatrist and don’t give up.