January 14, 2013

Rob and Paul being filmed for TV advert encouarging people to talk about mental health | Time to ChangePaul’s fiancé doesn’t think Paul’s mental health problems define him – to Rob, Paul is more than his diagnosis. 

Paul's story

As a person who lives with Bipolar, yet is fortunate enough to live a fulfilling and enlightened life, I know only too well how pivotal the role of my partner is in supporting my wellness. As many of you reading will know, for every success there has to be a multitude of mechanisms which enable the machine to work.

One of the main components of my wellbeing is my partner; an undeniable trust, respect and love which is un-biased nor born from academia or clinical practice. It’s a relationship which I hope many of you share; with a partner, a mother, a father, a sibling, a friend… a guidance which helps deliver us from crisis.

One of the many examples of my partner’s support has come in the guise of reasoning, which has prevented several severe episodes of hyper-mania. Those episodes could have been potentially disastrous due to my euphoric state and inability to understand the consequences of my actions. Those consequences could and have been an injury or disturbance, reckless spending, associating with unsavoury characters or, worse still, led to a period of horrendous clinical depression. Without my partner by my side I would have been vulnerable to my environment yet feeling like I could conquer the world. One such incident involved me risking my life for the pursuit of excitement and had my partner not intervened I could have unintentionally killed myself.

My partner, as ‘Watson’ was to ‘Holmes’, is the intrinsic connection between sufferance and wellbeing.

Rob's story

As a supporter of someone with a mental health condition, I took it upon myself to try and learn as much about their condition as possible so as to better understand how it affects them and what processes exist to aid in their recovery.

I only discovered Paul’s bipolarity by accident before he openly admitted it to me when I found his medication in a bag. At first it did alarm me a little but I was more concerned over whether Paul felt he could confide in me.

Being in a relationship, I like to make sure Paul knows that I am there for him whenever he needs me but at the same time, not to make him feel as if I am watching his every move. I like Paul to feel safe in the knowledge that I am here and I am ready to provide support, whether requested or not when the situation requires it.

There have been a few incidents where I have been Paul’s ‘anchor’ in times of hyper-mania to prevent him from going into a euphoric state where he was oblivious to the consequences of his actions. In equal measure, I have also had to provide an uplifting sense of positivity when Paul has entered a low period of feeling worthless and unloved.

One such incident involved Paul feeling so euphoric that he felt as if nothing bad could happen to him, a sense of invincibility, and without my intervention, would have taken actions that could have endangered his life.

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Would you and a friend, colleague, partner or family member like to blog about your relationship? Could you both write a short piece about a particular time when one of you supported your friend when they were struggling with a mental health problem? Find out how to blog for Time to Change.

Watch Rob and Paul's video to find out more about their story.

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.