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 :

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

Mental Health Medication And Dangerous Side Effects In The Heatwave by Eleanor

(image: Roman Odintsov)

In the words of Motown singers Martha Reeves and the Vandellas,

‘Just like a heatwave
Burning in my heart
Can’t keep from cryin’
It’s tearing me apart’

Temperatures yesterday here in the UK reached 40 degrees celsius, the hottest day here on record ever! Some people love the heat- ‘Oh it reminds me of being on the beach on holiday’, ‘It’s not that hot- just put a cold flannel on your face’ and ‘Why are people moaning, we go abroad to get this weather?’ are things i have heard this week. However, for people like myself who take strong mental health medication, in a country not used to these temperatures, this weather is quite literally no picnic.

Firstly, my parents and sister are redheads with pale skin. I am the same and am not built for the heat or humidity. Then, we can add in the fact that I have bipolar disorder and take daily medication- which if not managed correctly can send my blood and body toxic. This has never happened as I stay indoors, don’t do strenuous exercise and drink constantly (and eat enough) in the heat. Yesterday though was a big risk as it became SO hot.

(image: Karolina Grabowska: Pexels)

The risks of Lithium, a mood stabilising medicine, in the heat are fairly well known. It is a natural salt, dehydrating the body so if you don’t drink enough water or eat enough salt, the level of Lithium in the blood saturates and becomes too high- toxic.

Signs of lithium toxicity include: nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea, confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech, increased thirst and lack of coordination of muscles. Severe toxicity signs are: blurred vision, severe muscle spasms, seizures and coma. It is no joke. So trying to cope with Lithium in 40 degree weather and in most places, lack of air con, meant I was confined to my home as I didn’t want to feel like I was melting or run out of water. Thankfully, I didn’t go toxic!

Additionally, I take the anti psychotic Quetaipine which stops me developing mania and psychosis. This and another such medications can impair the body’s ability to regulate it’s own temperature. I am therefore at risk of developing hyperthermia- excessive body temperature- which can be fatal. (scary right??)

So you can imagine that when I hear we are having a heatwave, I instantly think ‘stay indoors, cool showers, ice lollies, sit by air con unit, drink lots and lots’ . I worry about commuting or travelling in the heat. I still can be out in some heat- but 40 degrees was too much!

Something that has troubled me as i wrote this blog is this. My employers have been amazing and let me work from home yesterday. I am able to hydrate myself and eat and keep myself cool. But for those who are ill and unable to, I imagine many were rushed to A and E with the above symptoms yesterday. As a vulnerable adult, my GP didn’t even call to check on me or highlight the side effects of my meds… I only know all this from Dr Google!

There is still a long way to go with proper care for those of us living with (as termed by my doctor) ‘severe mental illness’ whether we live in remission/recovery or whether we have a support network…..I may be 34, not 94- but I could be at risk and they wouldn’t know.

I hope by writing this blog and highlighting these side effects that more people will be aware of this too- which affects people with bipolar, schizophrenia/ schizoaffective disorder, psychosis, depression and other illnesses where anti psychotic meds are used.

One positive- when the heat broke last night and the summer rain fell as Rob and I watched on our balcony.. it reminded me of being in India during monsoon season and in Ghana having a shower in the rain so I suppose not all bad! I admitted I cheered when I saw the rain.

Lastly, I can’t finish this blog without highlighting we had a family bereavement yesterday- a cousin (but more like an uncle) passed away after illness. I will miss him terribly but learnt so much from him- kindness, humility and faith.

Stay safe in this heat! Do your meds affect you?

Love,

Eleanor

xx

Bipolar and Perinatal Mental Health: Part One by Eleanor

(image: pinterest)

I havn’t been sure for many months whether I was ready or wanted to share about the many issues I have been grappling with for a number of years. However, writing for me is therapeutic and so I wanted to share about the reality of mood disorders and thinking about starting a family.

To begin with, this is such a personal and complex issue for anyone with what is termed ‘severe mental illness; ie bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis. Our illnesses mainly have to be managed on daily medication and for some people with severe mental illness, they may still live with daily symptoms which can cause difficulties for them.

So this article is my personal experience of living with Bipolar 1 disorder and anxiety. To note, I was started on Lithium in 2014 after my last hospitalisation- which has stabilised the bipolar episodes into remission (it does something to the seretonin in the brain). I still live with some anxiety, but the combination of Lithium, Quetaipine (an anti psychotic) and anti depressants has meant that I do not become manic or psychotic and nor do I suffer from severe depression or suicidal depression. I feel more stable and I have engaged in therapy for the trauma I went through, for 2 years. So, thankfully at the moment my illness is very much controlled well and I have support from Rob and my family.

One side effects of my medicines has been weight gain and I aim to lose weight over the next year. This is important to me because it can sometimes impact on fertility and also makes a pregnancy more high risk (physical side effects such as blood clots etc). I will also be 34 in July and so this has become more pressing for me in terms of wanting to try for a baby. However, there are many risks in choosing to do this and going ahead, without speaking to a perinatal psychiatrist or mental health team.

Today, I got my referral letter to the mental health team to discuss planning a pregnancy and am on an NHS waiting list til June. For me, because my type of bipolar can be dangerous with the mania and psychosis- and having had several psychotic episodes in my life to date that have ended me up in hospital- a pregnancy where I carry a baby myself, has to be carefully planned in terms of my medication. For many reasons, I want to stay on my medicines for the entire pregnancy- so that I don’t end up relapsing during or straight after pregnancy (with bipolar there is a greater risk of relapse and post partum depression/psychosis due to the hormonal changes straight after birth).

I have been terrified for a number of years over what to do in order to keep me and a potential baby safe. I have researched surrogacy so I don’t risk making myself unwell, but this comes with a whole host of legal challenges around who is the parent, high financial costs (of treatment and paying expenses for surrogate/agencies) etc and the wait for the right surrogate. Surrogates can also pull out before giving. birth, you have to put your trust in them if you don’t know them- and you are trusting them with something hugely important! We also thought about adoption but with my mental health history and the potential issues that a child in care may be facing, I just didn’t want to put myself through the stress of being scrutinised.

So, please God even if we are blessed with a healthy child- the pregnancy may be as a friend of mine has termed ‘high risk’. This scares me and it scares me about potentially ending up in hospital again, on a mother and baby unit. I want to stay on my mood stabiliser and anti psychotic so the bipolar doesn’t cause this- however, I have decided that as long as I can stay on my medication and have the support of an experienced perinatal psychiatrist and mental health team (as well as my therapist),- plus regular monitoring and scans… and of course a proper plan put in place in case of relapse, this is what I will do (again, no one knows until you start trying for a baby and there can be many hurdles but I am trying to think positively).

I have also been asked whether I am worried about passing bipolar on. This is a worry as it does run in my family- however, I believe the risk of this with one parent is only about 10% (I got unlucky). Sometimes, I sit and question- am I being selfish for wanting to be a mother? And I realise, no I am not selfish. I don’t want my potential child to get bipolar disorder but equally if they do, we will deal with it. We also both want to get tested by Jnetics as we are both Ashkenazi (East European) Jews so may be carriers for certain illnesses.

Some women don’t want to be mothers, but I always have done since I was a little girl and I can’t imagine never having a family with my husband. I want to be the best Mum I can be and reduce my illness risk as much as possible to remain stable and well.

Do I wish things were different and I didn’t have this illness? Yes. but the reality is that I do but that I have been stable for a long time. I know we will make good parents whatever way it happens and I just hope the road ahead won’t be paved with challenges… it is never easy. I write this because its not often talked about… and I know there will be more to come on this subject but I wanted to share- if you yourself are going through something similar, you aren’t alone.

It took a lot to share this because its so personal and I worry about sharing too much- but this blog has been years in the making really! There is never a right time to open up- but maybe now I can allow myself to a bit and release the burden.

People sometimes ask me if I have children (as im mid thirties and married) and my answer is always, I hope to one day soon but leave it in Gods hands.

With love,

Eleanor x

Mental Health Chat With Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business Is Personal with Myself and my Dad Mike Segall. Our Journey With Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety.


Yesterday, 9th Feb, my dad Mike and I were honoured to be interviewed by his friends of many years, Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business is Personal- live on Linkedin, Youtube and Facebook.

They asked us to come on their weekly show to talk about our hereditary journey with bipolar disorder and anxiety and shed light on all things mental health.

It was a real pleasure to talk all about our lives and how my Dad was diagnosed with bipolar just 4 years before me.

Trigger warning: discusses suicidal ideation and psychosis.


Thanks Penny and Thomas! We hope it battles stigma around this much misunderstood illness. Watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fghp8RNTvX0

Reflecting on a New Year 2022: Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful by Eleanor

(image: Neon Filter)

When I was a child, growing up in Hertfordshire, my biggest dream (other than being a wife and mummy one day, because yes even then I dreamt of that) was to be an actress in the West End. I could think of nothing more exciting than standing on a stage, performing and I wanted to go to drama school from age 11. I went in the end at age 23 to do my masters degree at Royal Central in London, after doing a 3 year degree featuring Drama at Goldsmiths. I was so excited to have achieved a dream of mine, even though for many reasons I decided not to act professionally.

However, sometimes, long held dreams, things that are part of the core of our being, of our inner identity, can be a little harder to achieve. Sometimes, we find ourselves on the less travelled path, we feel different from our friends and family because our lives, for whatever reason, are different. We have to consider our health in a unique way. We have to try and surrender our fears to the universe and hope that everything will work out OK.

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16, I was still a child and I didn’t know what it would feel like to be an adult, needing a cocktail of medication daily in order to have stable brain chemistry. And how this medication might affect my body and mind- and considering children in the future as a woman with bipolar and all that brings- discussions with psychiatrists, difficult decisions to be made, do I carry my own baby, what will make things safer for me?

As I look ahead to 2022, I know that our dreams are there to be fulfilled. I know that I must trust and have faith that whatever happens, whatever 2022 brings to us, I will always have hope and I know my husband will too.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022 – may all our dreams manifest for the good.

Eleanor x

7 Bipolar Disorder Facts Everyone Should Know by Ronnie Deno

(image: bphope.com)


Bipolar disorder affects roughly 46 million people worldwide in 2017, according to the Our World in Data. While there remain several challenges for people living with bipolar disorder and to their caregivers, health experts believe that current developments have reduced symptoms and improved quality of life.

Bipolar disorder is a very common cause of disability and needs treatment . It is ranked by the World Health Organization as the 6th leading cause of disability in the world with the inadequacy of treatment, resulting in higher rates of ill health and worsening of symptoms. The following are the seven 7 facts everyone should know about bipolar disorder.  

Fact No. 1 – Bipolar disorder looks a lot like classic depression.

Formerly called manic depression, bipolar disorder involves extremes of emotions, when not well controlled. It is associated with mania, depression, or both. People who have it may undergo a depressive state for some time – that is, weeks to months – before entering the manic state. The depression period usually comes afterward, and the cycle repeats. In some cases, people experience both. They appear very agitated and energetic and sometimes this can tip into psychosis.. 

Both mania and depressive episodes range from mild to severe patterns. Because the clinical manifestations of bipolar disorder mimic other psychiatric anxiety disorders, it takes years at times for doctors to find the correct diagnosis.

Fact No. 2 – Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood and behaviour.

Some people with bipolar disorder experience cycles of manic and depressive episodes, which can be sudden and occurring several episodes a year. The cycle can shift quickly depending on the type and severity of the condition. Elevated mood associated with mania is defined by irritability, euphoria, and labile mood, whereas depression is often expressed by loss of interest, inability to function day to day and extreme sadness.

Fact No. 3 – Bipolar disorder has symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.

There are different variations of bipolar disorder, namely bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and bipolar unspecified. These conditions are marked by mania, depression, hypomania, or mixed manic and depressive episodes. In mixed bipolar type, there is a rapid and severe mood fluctuation in a quick sequence or simultaneous fashion without recovery in between. 

Fact No. 4 – The mood episodes of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on the clinical presentation. However, the symptoms can be unspecific and variable from one person to another throughout the disease. Thus, making the prediction cycles of a person with bipolar difficult. 

For some people,. a person with bipolar disorder undergoes two (2) cycles of mood changes with mania taking place in spring or fall. However, mood stabilising medication greatly reduces episodes.

Fact No. 5 – There is no known single cause of bipolar disorder.

It is thought that bipolar disorder may run in families. In terms of biochemical cause, the manic and depressive cycles of bipolar disorder are associated with the excess or depletion of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as catecholamines, dopamine, and norepinephrine. 

Trauma may also trigger bipolar episodes.

Fact No. 6 – There is treatment available for bipolar disorder.

The goals for treatment available for bipolar disorder are stabilisation of symptoms, prevention of relapse, and improvement of social functioning.

Pharmacotherapy, particularly antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilisers, are the mainstay treatments for bipolar disorder. The HHS Public Access cited Lithium as the best drug for relapse prevention. T

In addition to medications, long-term maintenance for people with bipolar disorders may include psychosocial treatments that focus on education, stress management, detection of relapse, and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Fact No. 7 – People with bipolar disorder can and do lead happy, healthy lives.

It is possible that people with bipolar disorder can have happy and healthy lives. Realistically speaking, the quality of life faced by people with bipolar can be challenging when they have episodes or if they dont take or find the right medicines. This is because they continue to face challenges on their way to recovery, such as availability and choosing the right medication, ease of access to non-pharmacologic therapies, and finding the right balance of the medicine and non-pharmacologic treatments. In a qualitative study conducted by the International Journal of Bipolar Disorder, researchers revealed that some people with bipolar disorders explicitly struggle with managing their symptoms, maintaining relationships, and continuing to experience some form of stigma. Thus, regular contact with their health care provider is essential, as it provides a supportive environment for them.

While the cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, certain factors contribute to its development. Bipolar disorder remains a global health challenge. At this present time, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but the current treatments have proven to mitigate their symptoms and improve quality of life.