May 19, 2016

So here’s my story, a 30 year old in a modern world. Diagnosed with Bipolar in 2012, after the passing of my nan which threw me into turmoil. I had spent many years battling with doctors, and medical professionals for nearly 10 years. Diagnosed with depression at the age of 17 I was always certain it was more than this, inside I felt different I knew I was somehow different to everyone else. I saw the world in a completely different light, often with a much deeper understanding and very much an over thinker. I spent much of my teenage years often confused about how I was feeling, or often confused at the way I would behave and react to certain situations.

I spent much of my time asleep for hours battling severe tiredness, to which I could never control. To suddenly having so much energy I was completing 20 hour shifts at work. I would experience highs and being the most energetic happiest person in the room, to suddenly spending my time in my room planning my funeral because I couldn’t comprehend being alive. I would go from being happy go lucky, to suddenly being the most angry and violent person in the room for often no reason at all. As a teenager I really couldn’t understand the reason for my behaviour, and often just thought it was a ‘phase’ and something I would grow out of.

Then came the passing of my nan in 2012 – it hit me with such a bang my whole world turned upside down. I began behaving as I did when I was a teenager, the highs the lows and the real lack of any sense of what I was actually doing. Until one day my manager came to me and sat me down, clearly she knew something was wrong. I'd worked for her for two years so she had seen my decline, and finally decided to step in and see what was going on. She had explained that my behaviour was really starting to show, turning up late for work, often being aggressive, to some days being so over the top people assumed I was on drugs. At this point I broke down and explained I had been like this most of my life and opened up about my depression, she then said she was going to make a phone call to which she did. 

She returned ten minutes later having made an appointment at the local mental health centre, she asked me to go along and speak to someone to which I agreed. It was then I was diagnosed with Bipolar type 2, severe anxiety disorder and OCD. Finally I had a diagnosis but this was just the start of my journey. For the last four years I have experienced the rollercoaster of what its like to have a mental illness in a modern world, often spending vast amounts of time waiting for answers, appointments or for people to truly show an understanding of how it really feels to live with a mental illness on a daily basis. I think in a modern world with the technology we have, people assume that mental illness is something that can be cured by a magic pill. They can cure nasty diseases like cancer so surely they can cure a little bit of sadness in a person right?

Having bipolar I have learnt many things about myself as an individual; it has also made me feel more empathy towards people who experience other really difficult things on a daily basis. But there’s one thing I am still yet to comprehend and that’s peoples lack of understanding or empathy towards someone with a mental health problem. Also the lack of understanding at how something so little can make a massive difference in a person’s life, something as simple as a text or phone call asking how I’m feeling. The lack of understanding in the workplace is equally as important, when I was at the lowest point in my life I was dismissed from a job because of the way I was rather than them make reasonable adjustments to make my life a little easier.

If you know someone with a mental health problem don't shut them out, don’t feel like you can’t open up and ask them how they are feeling. Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it with them, understanding can go a long way in someone’s recovery. 


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