When I first contacted Time To Change, 2 years ago I was mildly hypomanic. I knew that I was even though those around me didn't initially realise. I had learnt over the years to modify my habits when feeling a little unwell. This time around, I felt that I had experienced so much inner pain, loneliness at times and generally felt like 'why should I hide this?'. I felt like I was being misunderstood in so many areas of my life. It then turnt out to be one of the hardest years in my time of being diagnosed. I was very confident, with the encouragement of some friends and my agent that I wanted to commit to a movement that was going to educate others, in an easy to understand way.
I have felt a sense of liberation
By becoming a Champion, I have felt a sense of liberation and like a burden, that I felt or was made to feel that I had placed on others was more my coming to terms that I am not perfect, but I put my heart into what/who I love.
I signed up to be a Champion not for selfish reasons- I had looked at the work that Time to Change was doing and how the aim was to reduce the fear and stigma of those who know what it is like to experience mental health distress. I was tentative at first, but then I realised from reading others stories and the work being done how important Time to Change work is.
The mental health and well-being of mankind is an ongoing challenge
By becoming a Champion, I realised that it wasn't 'indulgent' to want to speak out about mental health, that there are so many others like me who have jobs, families, stressors and are trying our best to live good and happy lives. I have felt supported and not judged; I have also realised that there are key areas for example within certain cultures including my own that need work. I know now that progress has been made in those areas. The mental health and well-being of mankind is an ongoing challenge.
In the time that I have been involved as an active supporter of the Charity, I am seeing an improvement of people actually wanting to be informed about mental health. There are still many people who are like I was, slightly ashamed because they feel they have a flaw which they have to hide. So many people are wonderfully creative and pro-active, when something like depression happens they need all the support they can get...it doesn't have to be taboo.
I am learning to be kinder to myself
Opening up about my bipolar affective disorder has made me feel internally more strong, I still have my moments- I always will, but I am learning to be kinder to myself, as I had spent so long overcompensating for who I was. I can finally say the words 'Bipolar & proud' and if people are scared, then they have to inform themselves or by engaging with others we are happy to inform them. It has helped me be the person I want to be, even if others find me 'odd'.
With the contribution of 'End Stigma' for Time To Talk Day- I was proud to work with a team of people and crowdfunders who helped make the project happen...who also believe that it's time to talk and we all hope that the message will continue to strengthen.