Other people see me as having it all but perceptions can often be deceiving. Yes living with Bipolar has “had its highs and lows”. For the first 12 years I was on another planet, extremely isolated, people would stare at me, knowing that I was “different”, had been locked away for months on end.
I lost friends, or those who I thought were friends, particularly those with young children who seemed to think I posed a danger – there was still so much that needed to be learned and understood 30 years ago about mental illness.
I tried unsuccessfully to hold down jobs, being trained as a secretary helped, as I had skills that could be used anywhere.
But with my history of severe & enduring mental illness I couldn’t maintain any track record to sustain me in work – in the end it felt like I was unemployable.
That is the greatest stigma of all. I felt ostracised like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I lost my identity completely.
Although I couldn’t be employed, to avoid the stigma from employers I set up my own secretarial business typing up thesis for students and manuscripts for authors as well as running a facsimile agency – in the days before the internet and email!
It was moving to Glasgow that gave me back my life eventually and speaking out in 2002 publicly about my journey opened up the gates for others to follow. Now that is my purpose.
For me, a state of heightened senses, feeling in control and happy with life is where I want to be at all times.
Sometimes, these heightened senses increase to the point of mania. Now that is something that I feel pretty okay with as I know how far I can go with this state and if I can keep a lid on it then that’s okay too. I will experience colours and dreams and touch intensely and feel an overwhelming power to be able to do almost anything.
When it all goes beyond my control, well then we enter the world of hypomania and that is definitely not a place I want to be. My thoughts race, my speech is difficult to follow, I can’t be trusted with money, financial responsibility or anything. If this happens to you, seek medical help immediately.Back to stories