December 2, 2013

JustineMy life seemed to change when I meet Claire. She noticed that something wasn't quite right but was unsure what it could be. She looked up my symptoms and her diagnosis was bipolar disorder. With all this info she made a GP appointment and pushed for me to be seen.

We were both amazed at what the doctor said. The doctor said I've worked with mental health patients and those with bipolar and they wear short skirts and bright red lip stick and you clearly do not. I just hung my head but Claire was not happy so we went back again and again until she got me referred to the mental health team and, to cut a long story short, I was diagnosed with bipolar.

I felt so ashamed of this and wondered how would I get a job. Claire kept reassuring me; telling me now that I had medication I could start my life over again but, because of what that doctor said, I felt unsure and frightened.

When I told my parents they were supportive but, similar to me, were unsure of what would happen but they had love for me and that was enough.

It wasn't until I started a Princes Trust Programme that I started to tell people about my mental health.

A gentleman named Graham really helped me with this and talked to me and reassured me that I could indeed have a future. And all the people I was on the course with liked me for me and never had a problem with my mental health issues. They were very patient with me and this helped my confidence to grow massively.

To them I was just ’Justine’ and not ‘bipolar Justine’. They helped me realise that this horrible illness wasn't going to stop me from achieving everything I could. Before I did the programme I had not left the house for 2 years other than for appointments. However, now I was suddenly organising trips and leading a team of people and supporting others. I felt great.

My future is looking great. I'm glad I told them about my mental health as they too opened up and we supported each other through our issues. It's sad that not everyone has this amazing experience. I now work in a job I love and they too know about my illness and couldn't be more supportive and lovely. It's never an issueand I thank them all for that.

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