June 6, 2013

Stephen FryI’m sitting on a park bench. My makeup is sliding off the side of my face in the sun. I’m trying to look normal, whatever that is. I’m staring down the eyes of my interviewer, lest I let them wander over to the cameraman. I’m a little scared.

Yesterday, Stephen Fry revealed that in 2012 he had attempted suicide. As the President of Mind and the de facto face of the mental health anti-stigma initiative in the UK, his announcement was a sad but poignant reminder that bipolar, and indeed all mental illness, does not discriminate. A person who appears to have the world can suffer just as terribly as someone like me.

I got the call from Time to Change a few hours ago. They’d been understandably swamped with media requests to talk about Mr. Fry, and could I spare an afternoon to chat? As a media volunteer this isn’t a new thing for me, but I will admit when I hung up the phone, I was more nervous about an interview than I had ever been. I had never told anyone before, but I had suicide ideation early in my diagnosis.

There are over 500 books in my house. At least 40 of them are journals of mine, oversized beasts with papers stuck in them, and little pocket sized notepads with scribbles, and fancy pants ones from the British Library, or moleskin covered. But there is one hidden away, that I’ve carried from home to home, and over the Atlantic, that is empty. That one was to be the final journal.

When I was initially diagnosed with bipolar, I saw it as a death sentence. It would be the thing that killed me. There was no point in attempting to have a ‘normal’ life, or to live for that matter. So, I bought a beautiful journal. And I would fill it with my writings, and drawings, and stuff. And when I was done, and that journal was filled to the brim with me, I would kill myself. Not the most reasonable course of self-treatment, but as Stephen Fry said, you can’t reason your way out of depression, as it isn’t reasonable. I took solace in knowing that once the journal was finished, at least I’d have something worthwhile to show for my life. I’d have created something of worth.

I never started that journal. The depression passed, and by the time the next cycle came, I had learned better coping skills. I eventually found love, and we began a family. But I never forgot what that journal stood for, and every day it is a reminder of how far I’ve come in spite of this illness.

I wish Stephen only the very best on his continued road through bipolar. If you feel as though you have no one to turn to, please contact the Samaritans and your local GP. I’m really glad that his producer found Mr. Fry before it was too late. I’m really glad I never touched that journal again.

I’m really glad you are reading this. I’m really glad you are here.

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Comments

Depression

I too have tried to commit suicide twice in the last year. I don't have anyone to talk to, as people think I should snap out of it! I have good days and then I have dark days and no matter how hard I try to see what I have in my life, I still think that I do not want to be here any more. I cannot talk to my two children, who are adults now, as they do not understand. I lost my job when I was at my darkest and they had no sympathy at all! I am having cbt therapy but am struggling with it. This is really good reading about others and bringing it to the attention of everyone. I just hope one day I will stop feeling like this and get back to loving life, but at the moment I hate my life and myself, it just goes on.

I know how u feel. I feel the

I know how u feel. I feel the same I have no1 to talk to. most of the time I wish I was dead I don't have anything to live for. I doubt my self all the time... when I try to talk to someone about things I feel that they think it is joke and I should snap out of it......if only it was that easy..... I wish I could talk to someone about it but not easy telling people how you really feel. My family dont understand how I feel. I feel I would b better off dead so I am not a burden anymore. I am so alone I hate my self I hate the way I look fat and ugly.

Hello, I'm sorry that things

Hello, I'm sorry that things are so tough at the moment. Please remember that there are people out there who you can talk to, and who understand the type of thing you're going through. If you're able to, please reach out to your friends or family to talk about your feelings. And remember that the Samaritans are always there to listen, anytime day or night, on 08457 90 90 90 / jo@samaritans.org. There are lots of places you can go for help: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/help-support-services Take care

Stephen Fry

I am so proud of Stephen Fry for what he stands for and the positive influence he has in the media in regards to mental health and especially Bipolar. It is hard enough having Bipolar but to be able to talk about it as a celebrity to help others is just so brave and amazing. I wish I could meet him to give him a hug and tell him how thankful I am. X

I`m glad I didn`t take my own life.

I had a period of anxiety / depression a few years ago after several major life changing events; empty nest syndrome, (hormones) going through the change of life, caring for a loved one who was suffering with deep depression, caring for a vulnerable (in many ways) elderly friend and then grieving her subsequent death, being diagnosed with CFS/FMS, having to resign from a job I loved because of ill health, being the victim of emotional abuse and the living bereavement of a breakdown in close family relations. It all became too much, crying out for help but being ostracised by those closest to me who demanded I (quote) "got help before they`d talk to me again". I could not bear it any longer and attempted to take my own life in November 2007. Unfortunately the NHS service failed me, making promises of this and that but never carrying it through. Eventually, I had to pay privately for a firm diagnosis which was that I did not have any of the illnesses family members had decreed I needed help for before they would speak to me again but that I had GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) / trigger related anxiety depression in many cases of relapses. So, it finally dawned on me in the summer of 2010 that I was a survivor of extreme life changing events, I was to live my life as a survivor not the victim and I made the very brave and scary move of becoming a volunteer one morning a week, working with children who were being educated other than at school and have never looked back. I have gone from being totally housebound wreck of a woman who was dependent upon my husband for one to one support when out of the home to gaining my confidence back, making some good new friends and living my life Last year I was diagnosed with early onset dementia, I know what the future might well have in store for me but am so pleased that on that bleak November day in 2007 I did not take my own life but somehow got through that dark, dark, tunnel to find that light at the end of it, eventually .... To anyone there right now, hang on in there, truly it`s not just a saying, but just hang on in there, take the rough with the smooth because there will be a flicker of light at the end of that long, lonely and very dark at times tunnel.

Low Moods

Hi, I have low mood depressions 'Dysthemia' Was on medication for 18 months and have been off meds for what will be 1year this August. So riding these waves without any meds or professional support. Although my family are aware of my mental health it is still very difficult for them to accept and understand that it can just come without any warning. I am in one of those low moods now and have been for a good few months. I find it very difficult all of a sudden not to beable to leave the house, although I managed a short shopping trip round the corner today. I can be very reactive if people try to get me to snap out of it, and can be verbally horrid because I feel guilty and misunderstood. During these episodes I sometimes have blinding flash images of harming myself or others although I have never acted upon them. Its a scary place to be. I dont want to admit to having visions like that, its not how I want to be. So after venting verbally I tend to isolate myself in my room and try to find some peace, a center within and be quiet. I dont know if I will ever be able to hold down a job, at the moment my partner who works away is looking after me and sends me enough funds monthly to contribute to living with my family so that I am not dependant on the benefit system. I am blessed and hope to beable to cope and live with my unpredictable mental health into the future. Shock and trauma as a child. I know are the root cause of my depressions. God Bless all the people that share the similar experiences as me.

Understanding

I have been in that dark place too, many a time. I was going to drive my car at top speed into a wall, I had picked the wall, I had envisioned doing it many many times, but I'm still here. I still look at the wall every now and again. I have often said of depression, 'there are people who understand, and those who think they understand' but its about time everyone understands!

Depression

I went to commit suicide on 2 consecutive days, but for what ever reason I pulled out at the last minute. I have a loving wife and grown up kids. But for some reason I can't explain I go into dark depression at different times. I'm on medication and I've had C.B.T on numerous occasions but it didn't help. I'm in a dark place at the moment and just wish I could come out of it.

Hi John, I'm sorry to hear

Hi John, I'm sorry to hear that you are going through a tough time at the moment. Please remember that there are people out there who you can talk to, and who understand the type of thing you're going through. If you're able to, please reach out to your friends or family to talk about your feelings. There are tips on doing this here http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health/telling-someone-about-your-mental-health-problem Also remember that the Samaritans are always there to listen on 08457 90 90 90 or jo@samaritans.org. There are lots of places you can go for help - http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/what-are-mental-health-problems/help-support-services And if you’re worried about keeping yourself safe right now, please call 999 or go to your nearest A&E to get some more immediate support. Take care

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