(image: World Bipolar Day)
Today is World Bipolar Day and for those of us living with bipolar disorder we know that living with it every day, year round is more accurate. However today is our day to talk about life with mental illness and to try and eradicate the stigma around the illness… ‘crazy lady’ ‘nuts’ ‘drama queen’.
World Bipolar Day is designed to raise awareness worldwide of bipolar conditions and to work to eliminate social stigma whilst providing information to educate and help people understand the condition.
Even though I live in remission/recovery with the illness, I am medicated daily to be this way, and I have undergone years of therapy and learnt coping methods too, with support from family.
Well, before I found medication that stabilises my bipolar highs and lows, life looked very different.
There were times I couldn’t work. I was so depressed I lay in bed in all day, only getting up to eat. I was scared to have a shower and wash my hair.
Life looked bleak. All I wanted was my duvet and oblivion. I had intrusive thoughts about ending my life, I was in a lot of emotional pain and this would last for weeks, sometimes months on end.
Bipolar isn’t just a bit high or a bit low…. its depression and mania, suicidal ideation and psychosis, self harm thoughts, hypersexuality, hyper activity, believing delusions that aren’t real…..SO much. Its episodic but it can ruin your life. Some turn to drugs, alcohol, sex to cope. Some hear voices too.
I have been in hospital twice for fairly long stays. I have been sectioned under the mental health act and held in a hospital unit against my will. I have been injected with sedatives to calm my mind and body when I couldn’t consent. I have met people in hospital who were suicidal, anxious, depressed, high on drugs, in psychosis. I lived on a ward where I heard people being restrained.
So, not much fun really. Luckily this month I am celebrating 9 years of remission out of hospital! I also came out of hospital as a nervous wreck and thankfully, therapy has helped.
This blog is inspired by one of my followers who asked me what was my ‘Aha’ moment in recovery.
As well as finding the medicine Lithium, a salt that controls the mood fluctuations, the biggest thing I did for my own healing was go through therapy for my panic attacks and PTSD like symptoms. This was done with the support of my husband and family and because I has been on an NHS waiting list for 2 years, I needed help. My therapist and I have done EMDR trauma therapy which has helped me to process things.
In fact, I still do get anxiety attacks – just less. I have been in a very good place generally in the past year. Finding support at home, at work and from friends and family has been the most stabilising part.
I have had bipolar since I was 15, I am 34 and can tell you that this has not always been the case and my mental health has and will fluctuate.
I learnt recently that bipolar brains are neurodiverse, meaning our brain chemicals act differently to a neurotypical brain. Always good to understand the biology behind it too as this illness can be inherited and run in families- my Dad and I and other relatives have it.
On World Bipolar Day I hope:
-Employers adhere to the disability act and make reasonable adjustments to help those of us with bipolar to work in a better way for them, including hybrid working.
-People with mental illness aren’t fired because they can’t get to a physical workplace.
-Mental health services need better funding, so that people with bipolar can get a correct diagnosis sooner and get the help they need.
-People not in the Western world will get access to mental health medication and therapies that they desperately need.
Thank you for your ongoing support,
Read more about my journey with bipolar in my book Bring me to Light