May 4, 2012

Photo of Andy, a Time to Change bloggerI was diagnosed as bi-polar last summer following a final breakdown - although it transpires I have probably had it since my late teens, early twenties. The one thing that surprised me was how my whole life suddenly made sense and everything dropped into place.

It answered so many questions about the person I had been and some of the decisions I had made throughout my life.

Of course with it came some regrets as some of the decisions I made affected the rest of my life in one form or another and not all for the better. But at least now I have a better understanding about why I probably made those decisions.

I pushed people away from me including family. I did things that appalled them but in my mind it was all their fault and not mine. I had periods of depression which in the early days neither I nor anyone else recognised as such – albeit now so glaringly obvious.

I have likened it to walking along a cliff: most days I was on top happy and enjoying life but then I fall off the cliff and life became darker and more miserable. I would spend days hating myself and wondering why everybody around me was so damn happy and what was it that made them feel like that. Why couldn’t I be like that all the while I was struggling to climb back up the cliff – of course when I got to the top all was fine with the world again until the next time.

my wife had seen something coming and had only that week spoken to my GP about me

The crunch finally came in July last year – when I hit the bottom like never before locking myself in the spare room armed with alcohol and very dark thoughts. I had decided I wanted to be alone and to that end I had pushed my whole family away including my wife. I was hell-bent on leaving her, blaming her for all that I thought was bad in my life.

I had turned into a cruel and horrible person – unbeknown to me my wife had seen something coming and had only that week spoken to my GP about me. After hours of torture with my wife sat outside the door pleading with me to come out I finally emerged drunk and tearful.

I started to piece together my life

The next day I was say in my GP’s office pouring out the whole sorry story. He was incredibly supportive and still is, by his own admission he is no mental health expert. He recognised the symptoms and referred me to my local mental health clinic – started me on medication and so I started to piece together my life.

It was a long haul, two months off work but manageable with the unbelievable support from my wife and my GP – he insisted I saw him at least once a week and if I didn’t make an appointment he would ring me and make me come in to see him.

The day arrived when I had to go back to work

The day arrived when I had to go back to work and I made the decision to send an email out to my department of 100+ people including managers and supervisors explaining why I had been off for so long. The reaction was mixed but in the main a good reaction in face a number of people emailed me back congratulating me on being brave in being so open about being Bi-polar.

From my point of view it set a level playing field, no whispering in corners, no speculation or distorted facts about why I was off. If anyone wanted to ask me about my condition they were welcome to ask me and to this day people still are – often asking how I am, recognising when I am having a bad day and being generally supportive.

I consider myself very fortunate to have an understanding employer, colleagues and above all else wife and kids

Having read some of the experiences on here I consider myself very fortunate to have an understanding employer, colleagues and above all else wife and kids. That said my own family seem to be keeping a discreet distance at the moment although I think my 84 year old father doesn’t fully understand what my condition is actually all about.

What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to share your experience of mental health today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.


 

If you’re feeling in distress or need urgent support please find a list of organisations that can provide advice and support.


 

Share your story

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.