For a long while, I've been having issues with mental health. I remember asking my mum one day years ago if hearing and seeing things was normal and her response still sticks with me. "You're too young and don't know what REAL mental health problems are."
Many people believe having bipolar means simply dealing with alternating very high and very low moods, but there is so much more to it. During a manic phase, the person can experience delusional hallucinations, which can be terrifying. During a depressive phase, the person may become very forgetful or indecisive. It isn’t as simple as “today I’m happy, tomorrow I’m sad”. It can be life-threatening. So please, the next time you crack a “bipolar joke” – bear this in mind.
If you'd asked me about my mental health a year ago, I would have told you I was fine when really, I was struggling. I had a mental illness and I was hiding it. I didn't want to tell anyone because I didn't want people to think I was weird, dangerous or "crazy". The stigma has resulted in me feeling excluded and unable to fit in. It has made me feel isolated and like there is something wrong with me.
It’s World Suicide Prevention Day today. Words that are hard to write, and hard to say. They’re hard because 14 years ago (that’s half of my life) my best friend, my beautiful mum, ended her life. I among many others am one of those who are left behind trying to navigate the devastating grief that comes with being bereaved in this way. I believe my mum could have lived.