October 15, 2013

MAster of my own fateI was diagnosed with bipolar in January 2012 with an estimated onset at puberty. Previously treated for depression, anti depressants were making the mania worse.

Prior to this I had kept my mental health problems hidden from everyone but after 23 years of highs, lows, an eating disorder and OCD, I had a massive breakdown and finally started to receive some much needed help.

During my teenage years and through the majority of my adult life I always felt 'on the outside'. I had friends but was never part of the inner circle, never had that one best friend. I never felt quite right & wondered 'why me' on countless occasions.

I spoke to my line manager and, with their full support, returned to work

I had always worked and just 3 days after my breakdown I spoke to my line manager and with their full support, returned to work. I have always been open and honest with my employer regarding my depression and bipolar. I think that they can’t help and support me if they don’t know what I am dealing with and how it affects me.

Anyway in hindsight returning to work so soon was a massive mistake, I gave myself no time to even see a GP and to talk about treatment options let alone to adjust and start to come to terms with what I was going to have to accept and adjust to.

I haven't had any problems talking about my mental health

I haven’t found I have had any problems or embarrassment in talking about my mental health issues following my breakdown, to work colleagues, my partner, friends or employer. I try to look at it that if people care about me then they will try to understand and those who think I’m just a bit upset or sitting at home having a nice time are not worth worrying about. I think that’s mainly down to the fact that after so many years I finally could begin to understand why I felt and behaved as I did.

Sometimes I still do find it hard to understand the reactions of people that I had hoped would try to understand and no matter how hard I try not to let this affect me I find myself getting frustrated & angry at the ignorance surrounding mental health.

My job was managing a small team

In 2012 I became seriously ill and with the recommendation of my psychiatrist took 6 month off work. My line manager and HR manager continued to be fully supportive of my illness and related absence and we would have regular stay in touch meetings.

My job was managing a small team, many of which I had known for over 10 years. I am lucky in the fact that I have a very supportive HR manager and line manager and we agreed that it would be good for me to make short visits to the office which would help with my return.

During the first visit, the majority of my team snubbed me

During the first visit, the majority of my team snubbed me, some even getting up from their desk and walking away. I was upset and surprised but thought that maybe I had come in a busy time but this happened again on my second and last visit. Further investigation by senior management revealed that my team were of the opinion that if I was well enough to be out and about and able to visit then I should be at work. This attitude continued throughout my absence and unsurprisingly delayed my return.

I have now returned to work, after a very long phased return I decided I could not continue to manage these people, who I still have to sit with and who continue to make my life uncomfortable daily with whispering and comments about my health. So, after 25 years of hard work and finally understanding why I'm different, I still find myself 'on the outside'.

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