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