October 10, 2016

“Mental health problems are a difficult journey. Nobody should be discounted or stereotyped because of them."

When I was 18, my life was a mess. I had a great job, but I was struggling to make the most of it because of my mental state.

I had an unsettled childhood, and at home I could be downright unpleasant to my family. As I got older, instead of growing out of the ‘naughty’ phase, things got worse. My grades at school were good, and although I never went to university I landed myself a good job in the Civil Service at only 17. I was academic, I made my family proud. But at home, things were different. I began to resent my mother for the upheaval in my childhood, and I felt like an outsider in my own home. My three younger sisters have always been close to each other and I struggled to form that bond with them. I had always had difficulties with my mood, although at the time I thought I just felt sad and it was normal. I would cut off friends for the smallest reasons, and found it hard to maintain relationships with friends and family.

When I was 18, things got worse. My ‘low’ periods would last weeks, sometimes months. I began self-harming and was plagued with suicidal thoughts and I couldn’t get myself out of bed in the morning. And then, all of a sudden, I was fine. I was bright, bubbly, the life of the party. I was constantly dissatisfied, wondering why nobody could keep up with me. I wanted change, big change in my life. I would drink until I couldn’t stand. But nothing was good enough. I always wanted something more. This mania, as I now know it, could last anywhere from a day to a week. Never as long as my lows, but in some ways they were more dangerous. My behaviour became reckless, and I had no regard for anybody but myself. Sometimes not even myself.

On my mother’s advice, I went to my GP to ask her what everybody had long suspected – ‘do I have bipolar?’. I didn’t even get to begin to explain my symptoms before the doctor became irritated. No, I didn’t. I was a teenager and all teenagers feel this way, she told me. I believed her and it took another year to go back and ask again.

On my 19th birthday, I hit a low. I had hosted a house party and at the start I was having a great time – dancing, drinking, my friends cringing as my behaviour became more and more outrageous. My best friend found me in the bathroom later that night, crying and covered in blood. I was ashamed of what I had done to myself, and as the ambulance was called, I realised I needed help. It was a turning point.

It took a few more months, but I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. I got the help I needed, and I was prescribed medication to help regulate my mood. It took longer than it should have because the area I was living in was heavily oversubscribed for mental health services. 

There are still days where I struggle. I don’t want to take my medication because I feel ‘fine’. I pick fights with my boyfriend for no real reason. It flares up in times of stress and I’m still learning to deal with it. I have good people around me, and I’m lucky to have had the love and support my friends and family have provided. 

Mental health is a difficult journey. Nobody should be discounted or stereotyped because of them. Awareness is very important – it’s taken a long time for me to be open about my condition for fear of being seen differently because of it. 

I always call myself the crazy one, but I’m not. I’m just as normal as everyone else. It’s important to remember that.

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.


Mental health mentor

I am a psychiatric nurse and now work with university students who are experiencing some mental health problems.

University Dissertation

Hello! My name is Ellie-Jane and I go to Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Kent. It's coming up to dissertation time and mine is focussed around a woman with Bipolar. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I'm wanting to get different views and experiences from people who have suffered or are suffering with the disorder to create a truthful character for a musical. If you live close and if you're interested, would you be able to email me when you're free to meet up? Or if you're far away, many we can just talk over emails about everything? The information you give stays strictly in my dissertation folder and is never shown to anyone else. I really hope to hear from you soon! Warm Regards, Ellie-Jane


Hi Ellie, I have just seen your comment on a blog, I have Bipolar and would be more then happy to discuss the condition for your dissertation. Email is craighwilliams@gmail.com Craig


I am 19 yrs old and have been struggling with personality disorder since 8 years old, I was recently diagnosed after multiple attempts on my life, with periods of complete thoughtless mania in between. I am in my second year of an engineering degree which I have pushed myself through with little planning or steady thought, just motivation to get past the horrible time I'm going through presently, I am struggling. My perfectionism is hurting me, to the point where I finish assignments and do not pass them in because of the worry its not perfect. I study for days, things I don't need to know, or study without actually paying attention. It feels my only motivation is to not be the crazy failure everyone thinks I am. I am not on medication, I have tried one mood stabilizer which worsened my symptoms. Everyday I feel more and more shaken up and far away from my life, like I'm watching myself from afar. Caring less about what I see each day. My father was alcohol dependent for most of his life and ended his the year I began showing symptoms of BPD. I want to live a more stable life, nothing I do to change is alright with me. I am not great at maintaining relationships with my family (actively avoid them) though I am in a serious relationship with my best friend which my disorder tries to mess up at every chance. I have to deal with so much in a day I am exhausted and emotionally rung out by 5pm, when it really acts up, mostly on my boyfriend. I moved out of home because of this. I isolated myself from my family to hurt myself, when I lived there. Now in this small apartment I do not self harm but am insecure, jealous, irrational, I drink heavily. My goal at the end of each day is just to not have an incidental day, to hand in the one assignment I've been obsessing over and get on to the other 6 that are due. Sorry for the wall of text, just needed to say my piece. To someone, anyone.

Bipolar and Me

I'm a 50-something female who first met BDP almost 25 years ago - the birth of my first child brought post partum psychosis (incredibly scary) but luckily I was able to have my daughter with none of the trauma. Fast forward to age 33 and my mostly absent Dad passed away. I wasn't "allowed" to grieve (my family constantly worried about me) so I bottled it all up. Two years later, all that pent up grief presented itself and brought on a psychotic break (terrifying). I remember feeling I was going to die and fought like hell to live! Three days later, I awoke in hospital and was cared for by supportive nurses and my loving family. Sixteen years on, I take lithium to try to correct the chemical imbalance and it works sometimes. Other times, I just have to remind myself it will pass. It always does - don't let it in or win. The sad thing for me is when you have all those brilliant ideas and creative thoughts and you just know it's waiting around the corner... only now I know it's there and challenge it head on.

Postpartum Psychosis and Bipolar

Hi Mary, it was great to read your post as I also had Postpartum Psychosis (22 years ago) and was diagnosed with Bipolar 21 years ago. I have been on Lithium (priadel) since my diagnosis and was well for many years until recent years. I had a stressful time a few years ago due to bullying at work and I spoke up and fought it as it wasn't just me being bullied, patients were being bullied, I'm a nurse or was a nurse until pushed out of my profession due to the bullying. This has left me in financial difficulty and last year I had an episode of bipolar depression. I started a new job about 6 weeks ago and I'm struggling with the difficult hours. The stress is affecting my marriage. I brought my son up on my own, he's now 22 and in university. I got married 3 years ago and I have 2 step sons. When trying to cope with my new job, working every other weekend and being up at 5.30am after taking quetiapine at night, I still feel very drowsy in the mornings. I worked two very early shifts over the weekend 2 weeks ago. I was very stressed and had a bad headache. I came home and really needed to sit quietly and relax and my step sons were on their X box in the lounge. My husband knows the boys are not allowed to have the x box in the lounge at home and think it should be the same here. My husband cant drive and I have to pick up the boys and drop them off. Its getting so difficult that when I'm on my way home I don't want to go home. I feel I can't relax in my own home. I'm struggling so much to manage my illness and cope with the new job. I'm very unhappy and so is my husband. Sorry I didn't mean to make you feel like an agony aunt! It's encouraging to read your post. Many thanks, Sarah

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