A Dream come true…

For those of you following my blog and my facebook updates, you will know that last week I had a blog published online by the charity Rethink Mental Illness. I had wanted to speak out with charities for the longest time, and I remember feeling suicidally depressed and thinking ‘If only I could start a helpline or reach out to others through a charity to tell people you can get better.’

A month ago, I reached out to various mental health charities about blogging for them, and Rethink responded. So far, since my post went up on Friday it has had over 200 likes and 44 shares, some by mental health charities/organisations, it has reached 16,300 ish people online (which is just insane). It has been successful and it makes it so worthwhile when people respond positively.

The most important part for me was when a lady and Mum here in  the UK reached out to me to say her 16 year old daughter was depressed and suicidal and that she showed her my article to say, ‘there is hope’. For me, knowing that my article can help others makes it an absolute dream come true. I was 16 when it all started for me.

Rethink have asked me to write more for them. I am just so so happy that I am making even a tiny difference and I have kept a log of all the positive comments to look back on. Thank you everyone who has been so supportive.

My Blog for Rethink Mental Illness- Being Jewish and Bipolar.

Sarah is a mental health blogger, who is a member of the Jewish community and has bipolar disorder. Sarah talks to us about her inspiring journey and how the Jewish community supported her through hard sarah1.jpgtimes.

I have grown up in the English Jewish community, which is a close knit, family orientated community with giving to charity at its heart.

From going to synagogue and Sunday school, to getting involved in youth movements, I am still very much an active member of the community.  `

I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder at the age of 16, after a period of depression, anxiety and hypomania (pre cursor to a manic episode). I had grown up in a small town with the same friends, most of whom were Jewish and some weren’t. My bipolar is hereditary, believed to run in my family and this causes the low and high moods.  I have Bipolar 1 disorder which means I have more acute episodes and psychosis when I have manic episodes (which are not as frequent for me).

From the age of 16, I had experienced anxiety and social anxiety, triggered by being diagnosed at a young age. I had so much support as a teenager, and people in my school year made me massive cards, cakes and showed so much love.

I then went on to go to university and get my BA and MA degrees in my chosen field, I went travelling to India and volunteering in Africa and I tried my best to live life, despite the depression and anxiety that it threw my way.  My tutors on both the drama and English side of the course gave me so much support, especially my dissertation tutor who was Jewish himself. If ever I had panic attacks or anxiety about acting, my tutors were there to help me through it and send me alternative assignments if needed.

Almost 13 years later, I have been on a rollercoaster ride. I have known the depths of suicidal depression and self harm thoughts. I have been so frightened I couldn’t leave the house and had panic attacks daily. In 2014, I was sectioned under the mental health act due to mania and psychosis (delusions that weren’t real) and spent 4 months on a psychiatric ward, then 3 more months in a Day ward doing group therapies where I met some amazingly brave people. I loved doing art therapy and other healing therapies, and was put on the right medication for the first time- Lithium.

This was extremely challenging. However, the love and outpouring from my  friends and Rabbis helped me so much. Every Friday, Jewish Sabbath, I was brought warm chicken soup from a Rabbi who hardly knew me. My childhood Rabbi came to the ward to see me and talk, giving comfort. This was the same amazing man who visited my Mum in hospital when I was born!  My friends made me cakes, lit candles on the Sabbath for me with a blessing that I would get well, put my name as a prayer in the cracks of the Western Wall in Israel and prayed for me from our prayer books. I also prayed almost daily in hospital. It was a help and a saviour from being in hospital and not in my home environment. The nurses were hugely supportive and did all they could to get me well and feel safe, but I missed my home environment.

My experiences inspired me to raise money for the Jewish Association of Mental Illness (Jami). They are a small charity serving those with mental illness in the Jewish community, who needed donations. They help befriend people in hospital, run support groups and do many other wonderful things. For example. Jami is now opening a café for sufferers in North London where they can come and socialise and chat in a safe space with people with similar worries or illnesses.

I wanted to raise money for Jami when I left hospital and a year later on my 27th Birthday, I asked friends to donate in honour of my birthday. Amazingly, the total crept up and up until we raised almost £1000. I couldn’t believe it. It was the best feeling knowing it helped others.

It means so much that friends and family would donate so much  and so much kindness was sent my way.

I have had a lot of support from our community but am not fully ‘out’ with my illness yet, however the support from people when I was in hospital  was overwhelming.

There is hope, a candle of light, despite the darkness that mental illness can bring.

To read more from Sarah, take a look at her blog http://www.diaryofanearlythirtyyearold.wordpress.com

To you: Rethink Blog Reader!

Hi you, yes you. You who have come here via my post on Rethink Mental Illness about having bipolar disorder.

Thank you for clicking through to see my blog about my little world of mental health awareness and life.

Thank you for reading my blog.

If you would like to follow me on my journey, just type in your email in the box on the right hand side.

With love and gratitude 🙂

Blood Tests and Lithium Levels.

I realised today that I havn’t spoken on my blog yet about one aspect of taking Lithium as medication for bipolar disorder. Blood tests, levels and toxicity.

Now I have been having my blood tested every few months since I was about 17. This is so they could check that my organs were functioning OK on my last mood stabilising medication, Carbamazepine (that I was on from aged 16-25). Carbamazepine is quite a mild drug and thankfully all was alright and I had very few side effects on it (other than the mental effects of depression because it didnt work over time).

When I left hospital as an inpatient in 2014 and began taking Lithium carbonate, my Drs on the day ward had to start me off slowly and build up the level of Lithium in my blood carefully week by week. This is because Lithium is an extremely strong medication and if there is too much Lithium in the blood stream, the body goes into a ‘toxic’ state and you feel really unwell and have to go to hospital for the physical side effects.

So over a period of about 2 months, my psychiatrist on the day ward slowly and steadily increased my Lithium dosage to a therapeutic dose. I also take Quetaipine, which is another mood stabiliser but the interaction means that in the worst cases, you can have heart problems. Thankfully, I have not had heart issues but I do have to go to have occasional ECGs at the hospital to check my heart rate etc.

Anyway, this morning I had a blood test so that the Drs could test my Lithium level (so its not too low or high in blood), kidney function and thyroid function. Lithium can effect both kidneys and thyroid negatively, due to the fact it is a strong salt, so its so important to have these tests.

I  feel extremely lucky to have the NHS and not to have to pay for  my treatment. Blood tests aren’t fun but thankfully as they are a little needle, I am now used to them.

Oh such fun 🙂

Determination and Blind Panic…:)

Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote here. I decided to give myself a break from blogging just to reflect.

The aforementioned job interview happened last week. I actually thought it had gone pretty badly, due to the fact the interview was very short and my interviewer didn’t give much away. So much so, that in what only can be described as a mix of determination and blind panic, I spent the following day sending out my CV, talking to recruiters, applying for volunteering posts and pretty much worrying myself to death about life and the fact I may not have a job or career I wanted from September.

Luckily,  my lovely friend Katie came to visit so we chatted for hours about life and everything in  between which made me feel so much better! Then, I went to sleep, still having not heard back from my interview and still feeling like I was in limbo and so far away from being where I actually wanted. I had spent the day checking and re checking my emails, looking for other opportunities and essentially being a worry wart.

Friday morning, I had breakfast and then got a call from the school. Who told me…. they wanted to offer me the part time job with early years children that I so wanted! I think I was in shock for the majority of the day.

But yes, due to a combination of determination, panic, nerves, various taxi rides to schools and an interview in 30 degree heat on the hottest day of the year- I got there in the end and will start at my new school in September. *wipes brow*

Still can’t quite believe it but there you go. Exciting developments ahead I hope…..

In other news, I have been catching up with and seeing friends and looking forward to my holidays in August. I will hopefully also have a blog published by a mental health charity and will post it when it is up.

Thank you again for reading my musings and for the support.

On success and fearlessness.

fearless1

 

As I go to job interviews and I try to reach my goal, this quote speaks to my heart. It says- keep going and be fearless.

Even when all seems in limbo it reminds me to keep working towards my dreams in whatever way possible. Even if I can’t control the outcome, I must keep my souls dreams alive and keep working towards them. Fingers crossed…..

Be your own light.

Sometimes in life, you feel anxious or down or tired or stressed or overwhelmed. Its times like this you must be kind to yourself and keep going through the turmoil of these feelings.

Today, I am feeling much brighter. I started some new therapy on Monday which was enlightening but left me very exhausted and a little overwhelmed as I opened up fully.

I am also trying to get back into work and to blog more. There may be an exciting project in the pipe line and I will let you know if the blog gets published.

Must always tell myself (and others) to keep going and to try to shine my light.

 

lightanddark

My Storm Clouds shall fade to Wisps.

In the same journal from 2011, I found a poem I had written about living life with the instability of depression and constant emotion. It is so interesting for me to look back on and I wanted to share this with you, to raise awareness of what it is like to go through despair, instability and the low feelings of depression or any hardship.

Thank God, I am now much better. This poem is dedicated to a friend of mine. I will also create a poetry page at the top to collate all my poems together. I hope this poem can help others if they are going through similar emotions or if they just want to understand a friend or loved one.

My Storm Clouds Shall Fade to Wisps-  (written 1st March 2011)
Woken up
Like the sky is going to crash
Like the sea is there to swallow me
Surges of emotions like the waves
Rocking my once calm and serene boat
This morning I am stormy
Maybe this evening I will be still
As a bird asleep in its mothers nest
Protected and warm
I will be tranquil
Teardrops shall not fall
I will be at peace
My storm clouds shall fade to wisps.              

(copyright: diaryofanearlythirtyyearold.wordpress.com)

A Personal Message from 2011.

The other day I was in my room and I found one of my journal notebooks from 2011. I have been journalling on and off since I was about 14 and have documented a lot of my life.

Why am I about to share this diary entry from 2011?

In 2011, I was suffering from bad depression and anxiety. I had to quit my job in teaching in April due to stress and depression and was waiting to begin  my masters degree at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in the September.  I eventually went on to complete my Masters, but ended up suicidally depressed (no exaggeration) afterwards- however I loved my degree even with my health challenges.

Anyway, back in 2011, I was on a mood stabiliser to even out my moods- Carbamazepine, that wasn’t holding my depressive moods at all. In truth I had been clinically depressed on and off since 2008 and my Doctors were begging me to try Lithium to improve my moods but I refused, being frightened as it is a far stronger drug and I was concerned about its side effects.
After my hospitalisation in 2014, I decided to try Lithium as it had worked for my Dad and my bipolar is far more under control. I wanted to share this message that I wrote about my bipolar at the time. It shows what having this illness is like and I hope will raise awareness or give others comfort that they are not alone.

2011 Entry

‘ If I was to describe how having bipolar disorder makes you feel- Its like having two yous. I mainly suffer from depression and so one me hides from the world, feels frightened and anxious, down, can’t do anything- go to work , see friends, walk down a road. And the other half of me is my bubbly happy self- seeing friends and loving theatre, music, nature, travelling and life.

I am, believe it or not, a people person. But then irrationality takes over me and I don’t know who I am. I become a scared child, who hides in her bed for comfort. I become someone that I don’t know. And I don’t want this anymore.

I don’t want to be so frightened. I want to live.

Part of this though is not bipolar disorder- its separate anxiety that bubbles up when I am under stress in my life. I feel a sickening feeling of fear in my stomach- gurgling away, palms sweat and mind replays the ‘fearful’ scene over and over. I isolate myself because I become scared of peoples judgement of me. Its irrational but the physical symptoms of fear feel very bad.

I know I can get better and rid myself of the symptoms. I know I can move forward and follow methods that will get rid of it. I just have to use all the advice I know and all the common sense I can to push forward. To keep challenging myself, because I can do it and I am going to get better.

I will be without anxiety for good.’