I’m 39 years of age and have struggled with my mental health for the majority of those years. I’ve known for a long time it’s been more than depression, but I never felt able to tell anyone just how bad things were. I’ve been through long periods of depression and long periods of what I now know to be mania, and these episodes have lengthened and intensified over the years. After the death of my friend at the end of last year, everything intensified and not getting help was no longer an option.
I work as a social worker and the stigma attached to mental health prevented me from seeking help. When I was riding the waves of my condition I’d hide away from my friends and family and no one got to see how unwell I was.
I got myself into a lonely and deserted place and all because of a fear of being judged! Of losing my friends and of losing my job! But I got to a point where none of that mattered because I was at breaking point and had to admit it.
I was only diagnosed with bipolar last week and despite suspecting it for a very long time, it still felt like a punch in the gut. I left the psychiatrists office still determined ‘no one would know’ but then came a slither of hope that with the right meds and therapy, I may break free from the prison inside my own mind.
I told my partner and that was fine, then my son and I reconnected with friends and told them. Worryingly no one was surprised - I guess my belief I hid it well was pretty failed.
I told work and within 24 hours my senior manager said I wouldn’t be able to do my job and should consider redeployment! This could have crushed me, and had I been in depressive state I likely would have quit on the spot! But my manic friend is raging at present and it gave me the fight I needed to say, "I’ve been doing this job whilst increasingly ill and without help or medication. If I can do that, then with treatment I can rock my job!"
Every day has been a battle and the war has only just started. But I refuse to let people’s small minded opinions and judgments define me or set me limits! I will fight and I will face prejudice face on and challenge it!