Living in London is fast paced. You don’t realise how hectic it is, until you take a breather away. Add bipolar affective disorder, however mild or severe, and sometimes you feel like not participating. My diagnosis was a huge blow in 1999; what was this ‘thing’ that had invaded my life? How could I control it and not let it defeat me? I spent a few years in a bubble - I would get on with the day-to-day parental duties, take my son to his activities and play with him. I did little else socially outside of that.
The support and love of others was vital to me regaining perspective
The key to helping me move forward and dissolve the self blame for this ‘thing’ lay within myself. But no man is an island. The support and love of others was vital to me regaining perspective and being able to enjoy a better healthier life, than before I was diagnosed. I had to stop seeing myself as a victim and program the word survivor into my psyche.
A friend made sure I would go to the gym with her at least once a week
A few close friends and family helped my journey. For example, my best friend made sure that we would do nice things - even just a walk around the shops, followed by tea & cake. We’d go to the theatre or cinema. At a point where I was not answering my phone, another friend persisted and made sure that I would go to the gym with her at least once a week. My agents still believed in me and encouraged me to still go to castings. A fellow actor and friend, who lived locally would cook me breakfast and put together a bench so I could chill in my garden.
However, sometimes people have been cruel and disappeared without notice. That tends to make me feel very insular and admittedly lose faith and trust in humankind. I can go days without speaking to anyone other than my son and mother. I don’t think family and friends realise that when I do contact them - they could actually be doing something very generous, by just picking up the phone.
Just knowing that I do have a few people who will text and say ‘Are you ok?’ or ‘Love you’ is reassuring
I know that people are busy so they can’t always be there. Just knowing that I do have a few people who will from time to time text and say ‘Are you ok?’ or ‘Love you’ is reassuring. I can’t always go out as I have family commitments. When people do invite me out to socialise, it does raise my spirits and make me feel like they are seeing me for who I am and not just the bipolar label. For those few, I am always grateful.
With special thanks to Alex Winn.