Living with a Mental Illness – Q&A

I have been thinking about how to approach the subject of my mental illness on my blog for a while now and I’ve seen a few mental health tags doing the round online so I decided to combine a few of them to bring you this Mental Health Q&A

What Mental Illness do you suffer from?
I have been diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, which means that without treatment my moods cycle rapidly – sometimes several times a day from Mania (elation) to Depression.

When were you diagnosed?
I was first diagnosed at 25 years old in July of 2007 so this year will be my 11th year managing my Bipolar.

How were you diagnosed?
It was a long process for me. I was misdiagnosed with depression for four years and then I happened to have a doctors appointment at a time when I was manic and the doctor referred me to a psychiatrist the very next day who referred me to the Early Intervention Service – who diagnosed me as Bipolar. So I had to see one doctor, one mental health team, and two psychiatrists before I got my diagnosis.

Were you given any Medication?
Yes but again finding the right medication was a long process for me as I had a lot of issue with side effects but eventually I was prescribed a mood stabilizer for my mania and an anti-depressant for my depression. I have been on this combination for 10 years now and have no side effects and my mania is fully controlled – it is so important to take your medication correctly as prescribed.

Were you given any other treatment?
I’ve had CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and talking therapies, which in the beginning really helped me to get a handle on my condition by making sure I recognize the signs that I’m becoming ill, I no longer have or need these treatments.

Do your friends and family know about your condition?
Most definitely. Right from the beginning, I wanted to be open about my condition, I believe that talking about mental illness informs people and breaks down any stigma attached. I also let my boyfriend know when we first got together as I believe he had a right to know before we became serious.

What impact did your diagnosis have on your life?
Before I was diagnosed I was working a good job that I enjoyed but unfortunately, my behavior was erratic and I was unable to carry out my job, as such I lost that job. I had to be on benefits for the next three years as I was unable to work which really broke my spirit and I was embarrassed by the fact that I couldn’t hold a job down.

Does your mental illness still impact your life?
Of course, but only minimally so. I am aware that I have to be kinder to myself. I’m aware that maybe I am not able to take on as much as someone without my diagnosis could. I have to make sure I give myself down time and don’t get too stressed as stress can still trigger my depression. I run my own business now and that is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

What advice would you give to someone else suffering from your condition?
If you’ve been prescribed medication – take it!! It may make you feel bad in the beginning but persevere it will be worth it. Don’t self-medicate with drugs and alcohol – I don’t really drink alcohol except for a glass of Prosecco at celebrations because I know it can impact my mood.
Be open about how you are feeling, if you’re depressed don’t hide it, tell someone so they can try to help you.

Main Misconceptions you have heard about your condition?
That we are all like TV characters with Bipolar. The media tend to only portray extreme cases of bipolar because it makes good television – we are not all homicidal maniacs and we are definitely not Psycho!
I hope this has given a little insight into what it’s like living with a mental illness.
Did I answer all the questions you may have about Bipolar? If not, leave a question below and I’ll answer it in a future post.
The Secret Girly Girl
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Six Months Vegan – An Update

Six months ago I made the decision to go from Vegetarian to Vegan, and it was one of the most positive life changes I have ever made.

As I have said in a previous post, opting for a more plant-based diet had made me feel so much healthier both physically and mentally and this has only continued to get better with every passing month.

I have now lost 10kg (22lb) and gone from a UK dress size 18 to a 16 and in some cases a 14!

Picking Vegan options is no longer a problem. I can usually navigate a menu pretty well when out for a meal and using vegan ingredients in my cooking is second nature to me.

I’ve also found some cool friends via Vegan Facebook groups too that I can discuss vegan issues with and share hints and tricks on cooking.

I’ve also found a love for vegan cheese too (I hated it when I first converted) and I enjoy trying new products and recipes too.

Overall going vegan has made such a positive impact on my life that I could never eat animal products again – the animals deserve so much better, and so do I!

The Secret Girly Girl
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Book Review – The Venetian by Shani Struthers

I first heard of British based Author Shani Struthers when I read ‘The Haunting of Highdown Hall’ the first book in her Psychic Surveys series and really enjoyed it.

I automatically downloaded other books in the series but came upon ‘The Venetian’ when looking for books in my Kindle unlimited subscription.

the ventianAs the title would suggest, this book is set in Venice.

The book starts by introducing us to Rob & Louise, a married couple visiting Venice for a romantic weekend away.

While exploring the city one night they go for a meal, only to meet another couple.

The couple offers to take them over to Poveglia a small island off of Venice said to have a haunting history of plague victims and an Asylum for the Mentally ill, but does this mysterious couple have an ulterior motive?

The book then takes you back in time to 1938 to Charlotte, an English woman who has moved to Venice to be at the side of her husband Doctor Enrico.

When Enrico is offered a work placement working with his Uncle at the Mental Asylum on Poveglia, the couple moves to the island to take care of the patients and start married life together.

Soon Charlotte begins to suspect that the treatments being carried out on their patients may be more sinister than she first thought.

The book flips between the years but soon their fates collide with malevolent repercussions.

This book had me on the edge of my seat throughout I couldn’t put it down.

While reading the book I did a little research and found that Poveglia does in fact exist and that it was a place of quarantine to plague victims in 1805 and that in 1922 an Asylum for the mentally ill was opened on the island but the asylum shut it’s doors in 1968 (although the Asylum still remains standing).

The fact that this book is so richly woven in fact just made it all the more spooky.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great ghost story!

I gave this book 5/5 – It was fantastic!

What books are you currently reading? Let me know!

The Secret Girly Girl

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Re-discovering my love for reading….

Back In January 2017 I set a goal of reading 40 books throughout 2017.

Unfortunately at the close of the year I had only read 36.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to read a large amount of books to the point that I didn’t enjoy reading nearly as much as I usually do, It felt forced.

I was so intent on finishing a book that I didn’t enjoy the journey the book was taking me on.

So 2018 is going to be about enjoying the journey, and getting back to reading books for the right reason – to relax and escape into another world of my choosing.

I’m going to set realistic monthly goals and make sure that I set at least one hour aside each day to read books that I will enjoy.

We’re 3 weeks into the new year and already I’ve read some great books by Authors that I know and love.

None of the books have felt like a chore, infact I couldn’t put them down.

2018 is going to be my time to re-discover my love of reading

 

The Secret Girly Girl

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