November 26, 2012

Sarah, a Time to Change bloggerBack when I was still at school studying for my GCSEs I was struggling by myself with what I thought was depression. It later turned out to be bipolar disorder but perhaps that is another story for another day.

I felt very isolated and considerably different from my peers. School is all about fitting in and I most definitely did not fit in. I was coping with my severe depression and suicidal thoughts by self harming daily, even in the school toilets, just to get through the day.

However, all of that pain was internal. I wore a mask the rest of the time and nobody else at school had a clue what was going on inside my head. I decided to confide in a friend and, instead of being understanding, she was horrified and said “You can’t possibly be depressed because I’ve seen you laugh at jokes.” She went on to tell me about her grandmother who had ‘true’ depression and I was just making a mockery of people with real mental illnesses.

That left me feeling upset and confused. I even started to question myself - I did laugh at jokes. Did that mean I was making it all up? If I was making it up then why did I experience so much pain inside?

I decided not to confide in any more school friends

After that I decided not to confide in any more school friends for fear of being branded attention seeking, which a lot of self harmers often are. Instead I talked to my church youth worker and professionals at the mental health team where I slowly started to open up and trust people again with my internal struggles.

It's now been seven years since that incident and I have talked to so many mental health professionals about my problems and have gained confidence so that I no longer fear being branded attention seeking by others.

I even try to help others with mental health problems where I can

I have the support I need from the people that matter and that is what counts. I even try to help others with mental health problems where I can, simply being a listening ear can be a great help to someone who just needs to talk.

I am even studying psychology at university so that someday I can help others for a living and make even more of an impact.

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Comments

Depression, bipolar and 'attention seeking'

Well done you! I only wish my BiPolar had been recognised in the 60s and 70s. If it had I would have saved myself and many others hurt by me from the pain. Take care and good luck. x

Minmizing

I guess truthfully my reaction superficially is not good but I think then I personally have experience of my reaction as a young person being minimised by others. Don't take it as criticism my mother continues to minimize the reactions I have to lifes issues. I was bullied by awork colleague and verbally abused by a drunken family member at my brothers wedding reception and have never got any support from anybody in the family. These were the catalysts to 20 years of suffering and unemployment but I think the greatest battle is to not become an abuser and bully like those who could have destroyed my mental wellness but they haven't beaten the real me that comes more to the fore thankfully.

when do people learn

Sarah, your story is heartbreaking and I can identify with you. I too was diagnosed bipolar five years ago, after a catastrophic breakdown. I had never heard of it. I quickly educated myself and when i realised what it is, what it meant I wanted to give up on life and hide away, Five years later I am out of the dark, studying for a degree in psychology and helping my son who is 25 cope with depression. Never give up on yourself, you have the resources within you to get you there. Please try and forgive your friend, because if you haven't been through it people just do not know how awful it is. Its upto us to educate them without blame. You know instantly when you are talking to somebody who has been through it, you can tell because they have no judgement, blame or cynisism in their voice, quite simply, they know exactly where you are coming from. I feel it is a sign of real recovery when you are so passionate that you want to reach out. You are ready to face it with somebody else who needs help. And you wont stare back at them with no empathy, no understanding and no interest. If everybody was at risk of cancer, everybody would read about it, if everybody knew that mental illness can affect anybody at any time a whole lot more would change, politcs especially. So we take gentle steps, and there are a lot people taking gentle steps. never lose hope.

You told me...

I never laughed at you, I knew about it. The cumulative days I spent with you, the things I said and the things I done, just so that maybe, JUST maybe, you would find that short period of a few hours an easier task in the day. A small respite, a metaphorical island in the sea of your life. I always cared, and I always tried. but most of all, I always respected you for who you were. No matter what you done, what mood you were in, I was always your friend. =)

buetiful

the most lovely words anyone wiv bipolar could ever here...we cld all do with a few more friends like you xx

Attention seeking liar

That's what my mother and sister called me. I've got PTSD and all the joys of that because of the things I 'lied' about. I don't have a relationship with those women any more, and I'm the stronger for it as well as better off. Don't let other people's assumptions and prejudices hold you back, especially when you are hurting so much, and need help. I love my mental health team and GP. They even praised me, and all have them have said they were amazed I 'held it together as long as I did'. The people in the know, know, and they know that someone's experience is as real and valid as anyone else's. Judging someone and dismissing them is very easy to do.

Resilience

You have shown such strength and courage. I have complete respect for you and your ability to deal with such isolation during a time when you want to feel as if you belong. My daughter is in that place at the moment and I will share your story as a way of inspiring her. True friends walk along side us, no matter how difficult the journey is. What I hear is that you have not lost your faith in people though, and that is what I admire. Charlotte

Diagnosis

I was bullied all through school and excluded,this continued into my adult life. I am now 44 and have low confidence and little self esteem. I am now 5 years in recovery from alcohol dependency. I have been on many different medications for depression sine my twenties and have experienced levels of sudden euphoria then deepeed depression.Reading up on bipolar recently i feel i may be suffering from this but don't know how to explain this to my doctor without being made to feel like a needy hypocondriac. can anyone advise me please.

Hello, your doctor would be

<p>Hello, your doctor would be the best person to talk to but you can read up on bipolar on the NHS, Rethink Mental Illness and Mind websites:</p><p>http://www.rethink.org/about_mental_illness/mental_illnesses_and_disorders/bipolar_disorder/<br>http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Bipolar-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx<br>http://www.mind.org.uk/help/diagnoses_and_conditions/bipolar_disorder_manic_depression</p><p>Additionally, you can call or email the Mind or Rethink info lines if you want confidential advice about this issue and information about what support is available:</p><p>http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines<br>http://www.rethink.org/how_we_can_help/our_advice_information/index.html</p><p>Kind regards, </p><p>Ed<br>Time to Change</p>

Hi, I was diagnoised with

Hi, I was diagnoised with Bipolar but it took two years to get a full diagnosis as there are many professionals you need to be assessed by. I would go to your doctor and describe your symptoms more than say you think you have bipolar and then he will refer you to a psychiatrist for further assessment, best wishes to you

Going through exactly the same thing now

Hi, I'm 14 and this is EXACTLY what I'm going through now except I am still in the process of evaluation and I'm going to be checked for bipolar. I confided in a friend (who suffered from depression) who helped me a lot. But when things got behond their understanding, now they and everyone who knows, are calling me attention seeking. And when you are in a dark place that is the thing that hurts the most. They have now also cut me off. Can I ask how did being diagnosed effected your life? And can it be cured? How long will it take to be diagnosed? Thank you xx

Hello, there are infolines

<p>Hello, there are infolines run by the 2 charities behind Time to Change (Mind and Rethink Mental Illness) that will be able to give you more information about symptoms, diagnoses and the support available to you for mental health problems including bipolar and anxiety.You can contact Rethink on&nbsp;on 0845 456 0455 (10am-1pm Monday to Friday) or email info@rethink.org and you can contact Mind on 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday) or email: info@mind.org.uk.</p>

Hard when other people do attention seek

I had a similar situation, moving out of home due to abuse issues at 16. I've always been a bright bubbly social person, and when I was around people, and could distract myself, and was able to function normally. Except for the times when I became overwhelmed. People said similar things to me, that because I could smile at people, and didn't throw a temper tantrum when things didn't go my way, that nothing was wrong. I got professional help, it took my about 10 different counselors/psychologists to find one that I found helpful (DON'T EVER GIVE UP ON THAT! THERE ARE ALWAYS GOOD ONES OUT THERE, no matter how impossible it is to believe, there are people that can help you). So when it came to dealing with these issues it was kind of quiet and most of my friends didn't really know the extent of it.

The other side

My spouse is BiPolar Depressive. This is what I, personally have seen. Please tell me if I'm wrong! He CONSTANTLY talks about how depressed he is. If I'm doing something, he DEMANDS my attention. He has criticized how I comfort him. If I'm not holding and petting him, I'm doing it wrong. He has lain in the other room, and slapped himself in the face (something he's done many times in the past), and when I pretended to not hear him, he started slapping his upper arms repeatedly until I came in and asked him if he wanted me to take him to the Hospital. He calls me but doesn't say anything. I talk and he just sits there. At home, he tunes me out when I'm speaking to him. But if I'm away for a day or two for work, he calls constantly, and insists that I talk to him. Heaven forbid I not give him my full attention, even though he's not saying anything on the phone! When he last went in for evaluation, the hospital sent him to the ward for people they don't really feel are in danger. He complained bitterly about the fact that they didn't cater 3 hot meals and hot snacks every day. He was eager to get out because it wasn't the posh ward he likes going to. During his (multiple) times at the hospital, he called constantly, and would call every phone number (including my boss!) until I answered. Then he'd just sit there silently. And he would demand that I drag our 3 children (2 of whom are disabled) to see him in the hospital so he could sit there and stare at a wall. I have never encountered someone who talked about suicide so often, either. Nothing I do/say/try helps. I can't even comfort him correctly (he's actually reprimanded me about it before). He has accused me of marginalizing him, and thinking he's attention seeking. I would never say it out loud, but I DO think he's Attention seeking! He's driven away a friend at work by scaring her on facebook so badly that she called the police to check on him. He's left bookmarks on his ipod for websites on how to overdose on the meds he's taking, because he knows I'd see it. He's even taken to putting his rants on facebook now and again. How is this NOT attention seeking? Can a person be truly depressed and attention seeking at the same time? How do I handle this. It's been 15 years, and it just gets worse. Nothing I do is helpful or good enough. Blessedly, he works, but EVERYTHING else is my responsibility. And I work too! How am I supposed to take care of everything and then coddle him, too?

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