December 11, 2012

Illustration of woman holding glass of Guinness surrounded by green eyesI am 28 years old and have been living with Bipolar Disorder II with Psychosis since I was 14 years old. However I was only diagnosed August 2011 after a suicide attempt.

When I was working as an art teacher, everything had got way too much. I was having severe migraines, pains in my chest, pins and needles in the back of my head and feeling faint. I wasn’t diagnosed at this point but my doctor was aware that something was wrong. I was signed off with work related stress and anxiety.

During my time off I was mainly sitting and starring, not washing, not bothering to eat and sleeping a lot. I felt like it was all pointless...I would often think to myself... “I am not really needed at work, if I wasn't there someone else would teach the kids and they would probably be better than me anyway!”

I remember one situation that really upset me. I hadn’t been out in weeks and it was St Patrick’s Day. My family is Irish and I normally always have a little half pint of Guinness in memory of my granddad who died when I was 9 years old. My husband said to me, “You are gonna get dressed and we are going to go to the pub and have a drink for your granddad - it will do you good to get out.” I did as I was told hoping it might make me better to get out of the flat but when we got there the pub was full of my teacher friends. I said “hello”. I looked a state! My hair was tied back because it was greasy and unwashed - I’d thrown on some clothes that looked like PJ's. One of the teachers who was covering my classes at the time gave me an evil stare and barged me - hurting me as she walked past me.

It was at this moment it dawned on me how everyone felt about my absence. I was a problem in their eyes, someone who didn’t want to work and was having the time of her life.

Once the depression passed I seemed to go through a spell of not really sleeping at all. I sat up and read a book until 5am. I would clean the flat at odd hours in the morning and sometimes go walking down the street after midnight just because it seemed like a good idea. I and most of my teacher friends are on Facebook, I had updated my status to say I was very excited about the book I was reading (I did not know at the time I was actually hyper manic). A friend had told me that this status had created quite a stir because, as I was off sick, I was not allowed to be happy!

After this I became very depressed, reality hit and I was now reviewing the impulsive decisions I had made. People often referred to me as a wild child, scatty, who had a lot of fads... if they could see me at my lowest they probably wouldn’t recognise me. Socially I wear a mask, I wear a smile but it's lies.

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