ClaireMarch 16, 2016

I've been experiencing mental illnesses for 16 years. I have OCD, I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar rapid cycling until 7 years ago, then a year later I was diagnosed with BPD. I have had quite a few close calls and desperate times. I have been both chaotic and painfully numb. But I am grateful to be here and truly shocked that I have made it this far. It’s difficult and exhausting dealing with the "pain in the brain" I refer to my depressive episodes as, even without the discrimination I experience regularly – to me it’s been normal to be admitted to psychiatric wards, chucked into police cells under a Section 136 as there has been nowhere else for me to be put because "I’m a danger to myself”.

I am not a threat to anyone but myself. I have never harmed anyone or any animal. However, there have been many occasions when people have run for the hills or not trusted me with the basics in life such a babysitting (whilst the child was asleep) or even feeling like I am a normal person that can be spoken to.

I experience bipolar, but I'm more than a diagnosis

Using all your might to physically get out of bed and get into some sort of fit state (usually just dressed) to leave the house just to be met with such prejudice can break you like you didn't even know you could be broken. One such occasion started when, on a bipolar high, I relocated and told myself it would give my family a break and make me more independent. I moved somewhere where I didn’t know a soul. When I was out walking my two dogs I met a couple who also had two dogs of the same breed, the opposite sex to mine. I was thrilled talking to new people about common ground: our dogs. Later, the husband turned up with an orchid for me, treats for my boys and a good luck in your new home card with their phone numbers. He told me to call them any time for a dog walk. I was ecstatic and rang my mum after shrieking with excitement.

I called them a couple of days later and met up the woman and all the dogs. We had a lovely chat whilst the dogs played together on our way. But then, we went on our last dog walk – it was perfect until she asked me what I did for work. The ultimate conversation killer. I said that I was currently off sick and left it as that. To my dread a whole heap of questions arose. I wasn't prepared and couldn't think of saying anything to get away from this. She said that I looked fit and well physically, so why wasn't I working? I was trapped and I always believed that no harm could come from telling the truth, “always best to tell the truth” I had drummed into myself whilst growing up. I confided that I had mental health problems but was getting better, expecting that to finalise the interrogation. I couldn't have been more wrong.

I shared that I had bipolar but was managing it better than I had in a while. She responded by saying she had worked with someone who had bipolar before and she was "mental". She said she used to get that look on her face and she couldn't talk to her and she scared her. The couple and their dogs exited my life as quickly as they had entered. They didn't return phone calls or messages. I was devastated more so for being a "mental" which meant my dogs lost out seeing their doggie girlfriends.

The support I received changed my life

Other times, talking to people about my mental health has been essential. When I was first diagnosed with bipolar I was working, and I did not tell anyone how much pain I was in everyday mentally, but in the end one person’s support changed everything. I was struggling with the basics of getting out of bed, getting ready for work and doing my fake-it-to-make-it face. Little did I know everyone around me was concerned for my well-being – colleagues, family and friends were all watching me fall apart when I thought I had it under wraps. My line manager who I had worked closely with took me aside one day very gently and shared all the "out of the norm" things and behaviours she had been witnessing with me. I was so shocked, I was unaware of most of it and with other parts I was finding it hard to justify. I then confessed what had been running around in my head for 6 months and completely broke down. She hugged me and said “I'm really worried about you, you need to go to your doctors and seek some help”. I promised her I would and she helped me make the appointment. I am so grateful to this woman who voiced her concerns for me because if not for her nothing would have changed or actually started to make sense. Over the years I have met many people with mental illnesses which helped me realise I'm not a ‘Lone Ranger’ dealing with it.

I used to joke about not knowing what my shelf life time was going to be. At the moment I'm in a positive mindset and tell myself that I'm going to kick mental health’s butt and it's not going to be what takes me out. The longer I live with mental illness, the less time I have for people who discriminate against it.

​What do you think of the issues raised in Claire's blog? Tell us in the comments

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Comments

bullying

People who bully people with mental health conditions .....wouldn't it be great if they were kinder.....I am going through desperate times currently with my borderline....trying to get used to a new drug....seizures....panic attacks....and general hatred for the world..and people in it who dont care or understand mental health.I have to learn not to hate these people as they can have a devastating effect......all I want is peace.....being a nice person living with bpd is a sentence in itself......we don't need discrimination on top....

Bipolar

I have had issues from the age of 13,started with anorexia,then severe pmt,etc .I am 101% certain I have bipolar but although I am under a weekly CPN they won't test me!!! Behind this smile is a very desperate person but like with anorexia I am good at covering up.I have lost my children through it and now my grandchildren because at 52 they say I am mental.I have never been an in patient other than anorexia I am absolutely no danger to anyone I wouldn't hurt anyone only myself.If only they could see but I was due to have major surgery 3wks ago and I informed them all not one txt,phone call nothing as far as they know the op went ahead it didn't as I was not well enough but they don't know that.I had Easter gifts sent on my behalf to all 3 grandchildren and my ex husband don't even know if they got them? People tell me to block them completely out of my life like they have done to me but I gave birth to these 2 children how can I just walk away??? They have friends who have mental health issues but that's fine coz its not their mum.I really can't try any harder I am worn out with it all I just hope their children don't do to them what they have done to me.It's a silent illness but unless you have or suffer it no one knows how hard and how cruel an illness it is.

bipolar

Heather just read your blog and fully understand how painful rejection of your own is i cannot offer any help to you as i am still looking to find how to accept move on and cope with your life when your own reject you for an illness that you have no hand in causing. The only thing i can offer is to try and stay positive, a hard thing to do i know, and live for tomorrow it might be better.

Bipolar

Heather reading your post was so heart breaking although I haven't been fully rejected by my family none of them ever understand what and how I'm feeling they roll there eyes at my self harm attempts and have even offered my more tablets when I have genuinely been attempting to end my life the amazing thing is my children although still young have helped and support me for years now where my fight is is with social services they are so dismissive of my Bpd diagnosis they point blank do not understand it no do they seem to want to understand it all they have done is made me fight for the last 15 years to keep my children it's a daily battle with them they have had me through ever court in the country even the high court trying to remove my children from my care personally I really don't know how I have beat them I did have very good and understanding legal teams who did understand Bpd and the daily affects it has on my life. In 2004 I had a baby boy who 17 weeks later died in my arm this is when I really did stop living they had me sectioned and I spent 2 years in various different mental institutions but now 11 years later I'm still here I wake up every day and wonder what loops social services will have for me to jump through this time thanks to my younger sister who has dedicated her last 12 years of her life to me and my children and our fight against social services I have never lost custody of my children and also thanks to her I have never been successful in taking my life Bpd will always be part of my life but I will now dedicated the rest of my life in trying to make social services accept that suffering from Bpd does not mean you can't be a mother if ever you feel you have no one to talk to you will always find me willing to listen and truly understand what your are feeling and going through maybe your children have disowned you which is so hard for me to understand but never ever feel alone in your life there is always a Bpd sufferer out there waiting to offer a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on or even just to simply be there with you we can and will beat this horrid disability think I of you always from karon

Living Bipolar No Stigma here

I have read some of the posts. Deep down I hurt for each of you as I know the experience of mixed BPD x 12 yrs. I am medicated thankfully. On disability b/c of a serious work conflict that took me to the deep end. But, as many of you have said...I'm fighting to be free, be me. Deal with it and try to have a fulfilling life. God is my refuge and I have several close friends dear to me that are supportive and encouraging. I'm here today b/c just like cancer or diabetes, IM NOT LETTING BPD RULE MY LIFE. Much love and prayers to each of you! Deb

bipolar discrimination

I so totally relate to this blog post. It hurts so deep in your soul to be discriminated against for a disease you didn't ask for or have no control to change. Bipolar is incurable. Results in so many suicides because the ones closest too us don't even get it. Heartbreaking. Why does modern society still treat us like people did during the dark ages? They don't understand that we want to be like everyone else. They don't get we are highly creative individuals who want to work, want to thrive but can't because people see our crazy when we think we are behaving as normal as the next guy. I got fired from a job of a lifetime recently due to my bipolar. Unbelievable accusations. They accused me of doing drugs and all sorts of awful things. My bad in this? I failed to tell them I was bipolar. Then when I asked my supervisor to check out the symptoms, he couldn't be bothered with that. He fired me. So I ask any of you out there reading this how do you keep a job? I've been fired so many times because of my illness, yet I still look at the glass half full. I'm trying to get disability, but will I? Most likely not. Our disease is a curse that society shuns and even our loved ones can't understand due to our erratic behavior. I've been told when you cycle you are responsible for your actions. Truth is I wasn't at those time, but when I come full circle I take responsibility for my actions. But no one in my life ever forgives. I've lost two daughters due to this disease. They've sworn to never talk to me again. How do you move on? How do you survive when the entire world looks at bipolar disorder as an excuse for intentional bad behavior? Only the Lord I guess, but He's taking his own sweet time. My life is an absolute train wreck and all the doctors, drugs etc. ain't getting it back on track. Please if you are bipolar or have a loved one who is speak out for our appalling, non-understood disease.

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