January 3, 2013

Tim and Matt | Blog about rugby, friendship and bipolar disorder | Time to ChangeTim, 41, is one of our media volunteers and has recently featured in a Time to Change article in Rugby World. If you want to read this article, Rugby World is on shelves today (3rd Jan).

2012 has been a tough year, brutal at times, but I know it's one I'll look back on with great fondness in the future. After years of struggling with mental illness, in March I had the breakdown which led to me gaining access to the requisite psychiatric services. I was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and started to get the help I needed.

It was also a watershed year for another reason- after years of keeping quiet about my illness through feelings of shame, I decided to open up to people. After reading, and being touched by people’s stories on the Time to Change website, I wrote a blog of my own, and also 'came out' to family and friends and on Facebook. It was nerve-wracking at first - one of the hardest things I've ever done - but the amazing love and support I received was overwhelming and very humbling. It made me wish I'd done it years before.

Matt has been there at the toughest of times

The cornerstone of my support network is my friend Matt. He's always been there in the toughest times, after my breakdowns and suicide attempts. This year he really went into bat for me. He was ever-present on the end of the phone - a call or a text always seemed to come at the right time, when I needed it most. Endless games of online chess proved a distraction for my mind, whilst a stream of rubbish jokes never failed to make me smile. The rock-solid support he has given me has definitely brought us closer together, and I appreciate how lucky I am to have a friend like him.

In May he invited me down to Bedford, to stay with him and his partner Rachel for a few days. I booked a train ticket and packed a bag, but as the day approached I started to panic about the journey. I nearly cancelled several times, but I didn't want to let Matt down - another person to add to the list. I also knew deep down that the trip would do me good. It took every fibre of my being to get on the train, but I did, and as Matt met me at Bedford station with a hug and a smile, I knew I'd done the right thing.

We spent several days laying a patio in his garden, playing golf (he maintains he let me win to help my depression!), drinking beer and talking about stuff. I didn't realise at the time, but looking back I can pinpoint the start of my recovery to those few days. I think I knew, heading back on the train, that things would eventually be ok.

I was interviewed by Rugby World

So when I was approached by Time to Change to participate in an article for Rugby World magazine about sport, mental health and support networks I was happy to help. I feel very privileged and proud to help in any way I can.

I was interviewed for the piece by the magazine's editor, Owain Jones. I was initially nervous, talking to a complete stranger, but he really put me at ease. We ended up chatting for ages, and I enjoyed the process. As well as Matt and myself, the article centres on Duncan Bell and David Flatman, both former Bath and England front-row players. Duncan was very brave in April last year in going public about his ten years of struggling with depression. He's now head coach at Lydney, and getting on well.

For me, talking about mental illness has only been a positive thing

By a strange quirk of coincidence I was at Matt and Rachel's wedding a couple of weeks after doing the interview, and David Flatman was also a guest (he's the bride's godfather.) We got introduced, and chatted for half an hour about our experiences of doing the Rugby World piece and mental illness in general.

He asked how I was doing, and told me how he was helping Duncan. It was great to talk to him, and it genuinely felt like having a normal conversation with a mate - plenty of banter, no shame or stigma on my part or awkwardness on his. It was only the next day, whilst thinking about it, that I realised the significance of it. Just a year before, I never would have been able to have a conversation like that with anyone, let alone a stranger. So for me, talking about mental illness has only been a positive thing.

That conversation felt like a glimpse of what the future will be like, when the Time to Change campaign has been as successful as I imagine it's going to be. Just the way my life has changed since I first came across this website makes me feel optimistic that discrimination and stigma will end. So thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved in some small way."

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The February issue of Rugby World looks at depression and mental health in the world of sport through an interview with Duncan Bell.

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.



Great stuff for sharing. Talking about it with people is hugely helpful. Wishing you well.

bipolar Tim's blog

This is good you have had support and help but bipolar and alcohol don't mix so you should not be drinking as it is a contra to your medication and alcohol can lead to alcohol addiction either bipolar people. Source I've worked and know people with bipolar.

mental health

i really admire u for speaking out im not sure im confident enough to speak about it i can spend weeks without seeing anyone so well done to you

Mental Health

I really admire you for speaking out and fighting your mental illness. I,v suffered with depression and anxiety from a very young age. I,m 29 now. My highs are high and my lows are painfully low :o(. Unfortunatey i,m feeling low at the moment. I just wish the simple things in life were just simple for me. But leaving the house is a big deal at the moment. I cant socialize. Anxiety rules my life. Really enjoyed reading your story. Well done you :o)) Take care x

mental health

its brilliant to read testimonies. i find it so helpful to know im not the only one.

bipolar disorder

Tim, Thank you for your article. I am a 66 year old lady who has suffered the emotional effects of bipolar since my early twenties. I have a genetically inherited chemical imbalance of the brain which caused the bipolar. There are so many of us with this disorder. Antidepressants work wonderfully to balance the neurotransmitters in our brain to help restore the balance necessary to enjoy a normal life. God bless you for being open and willing to accept help. I was told many years ago by a wonderful pcycharist that those with bipolar go down a 4 way path. That is drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide, or they get help and take meds. My prayers are with you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Janice Willison

Bi-polar disorder

As a diagnosed bi-polar sufferer from 2006 I am thankful to still be alive and have never had any drug or alcohol abuse but suicidal thoughts may have crossed my mind back then. I got the medical help needed at the time having spent some weeks in a mental health hospital. But recently I have regressed to some of my old illness, mainly lack of sleep but now I am a mum, so post-natal depression is playing a part now. I go and see the team at my mental health hospital again tomorrow. Hopefully I can begin to get back on track.

mental health

Hello, I was fighting for my children in 2011 and the court referred me to two phycologists and they diagnosed me with bi-poler, PTSD, relationship disorder, attachment disorder and an unstable personality disorder and then told me to go and get help so I went to my gp and she referred me to elm view to see some one there, they assessed me and to there beief I dont suffer from the above difficulties. What do I do now thanks

Help for people who care for others with Mental Illness

I truly applaud your web site and wish it every success. As a registered nurse who has lived with enduring and severe depression (self diagnosed) for well over ten years, i wish there was more you could offer to people who care for others with a Mental Illness. I could never discuss my depression with my GP and i could also never access any form of Mental Health service in my area for fear of knowing someone or vice versa. Equally i could never let my employer know about my depression because i have seen first hand how managers and colleagues have cruelly treated others who have asked for help. My parents are elderly and would not understand and my brothers and sisters have their own lives and families, so it would be unfair to burden them with my problems. I would dearly love to talk to someone, if only to express my feelings without being judged and told to pull myself together. The burden of carrying the so called black dog of depression for all of this time is weighing me down and i would like to know if there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel. The thought of returning to some form of normality or control is my only hope for the future but sadly this is dwindling with a frightening rapidity. Can anyone offer any real advice and not just a phone number to talk to an anonymous voice?

Help for people who care for others with Mental Illness

The best thing you can do for yourself is to talk to someone, like you said, to express your feelings without being judged. I am in a kind of a weird situation now and also need some help/guidance. I suffer from Panic and Anxiety Disorder. I am currently on meds, which are helping; however, my 30 year old son is having major difficulties with severe depression. I don't know if he's bi-polar b/c it seems he never gets the highs associated with it, just the lows. Right now he has ceased all communication with me. He will not answer his phone at home or at work when I call, nor will he respond to any email that I send. I am not handling this well. If I could just hear his voice and start him talking to me again, it would do a lot to calm my anxiety a bit. I don't know what his current mind-set is. He just turned 30 last week, so I'm thinking that may have something to do with his situation. Anyway, if I can help you by just listening to you and perhaps talking things out, please contact me.

i really feel for you

I am not a nurse, but I was in a similar position for years. First of all, I didnt want any medical help for the fear of stigma and intolerance, and I carried on like that for about twenty years or so. Every day was a struggle. But after a loss of someone I loved dearly I tried to commit a suicide and was referred to a psychiatrist.Still, for a few years, I was suffering and my life wasnt how it should be.Then I got the right medication - treatment helped so much and now I can live my life to the full.I have been fine for the last five years. But TALKING about it is a completely different thing. I am lucky to have people in my family I can be open with,I have a wonderful fiance who knows everything about me/and I was honest about it from the very beginning- we have been together for about a year/. At work -NO! It is such a big no.....Im not saying I have any kind of mental health problem - because if they dont know, they dont even notice.If they know, they would treat you in a different way. It happened to me once, and Im not taking the risk again.But in another workplace that they knew, everybody helped me, and treated me with respect and made no difference between me and others. It is so wrong to discriminate people with mental health problems. Would anyone dare to discriminate someone with diabetes?


PLEASE, please, PLEASE, go and seek some medical help - even if you have to go to a private clinic far from where you live - depression is not something you can deal with on your own! it has to be treated - and as it would be considered irresponsible not to treat diabetes and not to seek a medical help, people are still not reasonable enough to think in similar way about depression. You cant just pull yourself together. But once the medication starts to work you will feel different. If you want to talk to other people about what you are going through, think about friend who cares about you. Maybe there is someone that you didnt consider, You might be surprised, as I was at a time. You have a life and you can be happy. All the best.

how do you feel?

Hello Everyone Personally i think this a great idea.I really enjoyed reading your stories. I think the best way to stop the discrimination is by making them to change the law and to get mps involved.

comments box not working

I have tried to post a comment four times that is below 1500 characters but it tells me I am over the limit - very frustrating. Giving up now

Mental Health

I am grateful to have found a place that is a voice for people in my position and look forward to contributing in the future. As most of the people on the wards I have been placed on smoke, I wrote this: Nicotine Hit Cigarette, cigar, roll up or fag, Different ravings of a similar bag. Restless fingers, quivering lips, all will stop once it's lit. That's the powerful surge of the nicotine hit. Plume of azure, spirals high, Seconds to minutes as time flies by. Inhale Benzine Cyanide, Warnings too late for those who've died! Alveolar blacken, lungs a straining, Nothing can stop nicotine craving. Your fingers, eyes, hair is yellowed, Coloured by the smoke we've bellowed Grow my children, don't get hooked, No babies teething, that tube you've sucked! One day soon, I'll try to quit, Until then, just one more Hit.

Your poem resonated with me,

Your poem resonated with me, my husband has struggled with mental health issues for many years and relies heavily on cigarettes to help him to cope. I hear the wheeze in his breath but know that the nicotine fix helps him to cope. How to resolve this conundrum and which issue is the priority, I do not know. What I do know is that having mental health issues can take over yours and the lives of others and people should be less judgemental about those who may be addicted to tobacco in one form or another.

How do you know?

I have spent some time now, reading up on depression and the symptoms of it. I have a very good friend who thinks I'm depressed. Depression is Not something that I have ever suffered from I don't think. I lost my mum just over a year and a half ago. Since then I have experienced some very dark days. I know some of that will be grief and expected. And I do have good days now. When I feel bad, I think maybe she is right and when I don't I think she has got it wrong. I am seeing a counsellor because others thought that I needed to. But I spend most of my time sitting there saying very little or arguing why I don't think i need to be there. I always imagined depression to be something that made you feel like those dark days all the time. I don't want to feel (for want of a better word), a fraud. I don't want to say I'm depressed if I'm not. I'm not sure I'm making much sense here. I would like the dark days to go forever; for that awful deep heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach which makes y mind think I need to get out of here, to never appear again.

mental health

Hi, i admire everyone for speaking out about how they feel,its nice to know im not alone, ive lost my freinds because of my illness,i get so afraid of speaking out incase im judged again, im on some medicaion now,but have a fear that my highs, lows, will come back as im going through some stress, im thinking of speaking to a doctor but worried about what they would do.

getting help

Been on meds on off for 10yrs suffer from anxiety and depression....ive had councelling i need some more support....feeling low keeps me away from friends as i dont feel like talking.....but then i regret not reaching out!!! Vicious circle....havin a stressful job and being a single parent is quite challenging. I do worry about admitting my feelings to my gp

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