I have had Bipolar Affective Disorder since I was 18 and my mental health problems became more severe during my first year of university, which resulted in me being in hospital for 9 weeks. It is certainly the hardest challenge I’ve had to face. The rapid thoughts, the irritability, vast spending and insomnia following the manic episode, whilst also having to cope with depression in the aftermath is extraordinarily difficult to get over. For some time after my mania just getting out of bed at a reasonable time was a struggle, I could be in bed until 1.00pm.
Having a family member visit me every day was so vital
When I was diagnosed with bipolar I literally knew nothing about it but, at the time, I was seriously unwell. I can remember screaming and shouting, thinking the media was out there to get me. My thinking was irrational and I was also suffering from what is known as psychosis, but I couldn’t accept that I was unwell. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, though, and it has allowed me to accept that I was unwell and allowed me to identify what I need to do in order to get better. What I do remember from my time in hospital is that a family member came every day to visit and for that I am so grateful and it was so vital in my recovery.
Initially, I was so embarrassed about my mental health problems and I didn’t really discuss it with anyone but after my episode last year I have learned to be more open about it. I let my friends regularly know how I am feeling and give them insight into my illness.
I have also faced stigma and discrimination
I have also had to face stigma and discrimination face on with people saying things like I was putting on my symptoms and “isn’t Bipolar just a fashionable thing that celebrities have”! Fortunately I have found some sympathetic people - such as family who constantly offer me advice, friends who constantly offer me support and my current employer who goes the extra mile to give me time off for medical appointments.
Bipolar may be a diagnosis that I have bit it doesn't define who I am
On a positive note, it has now been a year since my episode and I am doing very well. I work as an intern for a business, I am returning to University in September and most importantly my mood has stabilized. Also, I think it is important that I have now developed a routine where I am out bed Monday- Friday by 7.30am. When you overcome a huge obstacle in your life such as this, it makes you appreciate the small things in life. For example, beautiful views, a good meal or just spending time with your friends and family.
I have tackled mental health problems and stigma head on and I am still standing and that is what is most important. In the future I want to educate people more on mental health issues and continue to tackle stigma. Bipolar may be a diagnosis that I have but it doesn’t define who I am. I am an individual with a lot to offer the world and I am fighting this every step of the way.