So apologies having blogged quite often during some real hard yards of my life I have negated to BLOG for about 6 months where things have gone from bad to actually a better place. I want to update you all on my experiences of my BiPolar and navigating the illness at home and at work. This is partly a reaction to an American lady posting recently on The Mighty about her BiPolar journey and so I may steal some stuff and hopefully end up with an interesting BLOG, I’ll let you judge that.
In 1990 I had my first mental health episode but it wasn’t until September 2015 that I was diagnosed with biPolar and the strategy with my ilnesses was over time shaped more to answer the questions that BiPolar asked and to help me with my condition. To steal someone elses words …………….. When you realize you have a mental illness, I believe you learn to be more self-aware, to be vulnerable and strong. I agree with this but I think an awful lot of navigation and learning happens and though you can end up Strong you still occasionally break however much you try not to.
When I was diagnosed with Cyclythymia prior to my BiPolar diagnosis I remember being terrified of telling my work colleagues about my Mental Health and thinking apart from with very close friends I would need to hide it all. I remember thinking they would judge me and disown me — I would become the weakling in the work force, too fragile to be effective. What I now realize is that I would gather tools that would help me cope with more than just my mental health, but with life in general and I saw a Ruby Wax documentary on Channel 4 where I decided I would be open and honest about my Mental Health in the work place, it was part of me and even when diagnosed with BiPolar I didn’t shy away from that. It hasn’t been the easiest process, not everybody listens but ultimately I have found my Aviva colleagues supportive and willing to try and understand. I have to also say that my Managers have in the main been very supportive.
Below I use someone elses words with a few alterations to make it me that I think detail the differences between Mania & Depression really well, Im a Depressive with occasional Mania, not someone who is Manic lots of the time …… I find the Mania quite refreshing sometimes as it breaks my low mood.
“Before I understood my bipolar diagnosis, I just thought that mania was the creative, determined, hardworking, albeit irritable me and that the depression that came after was the sad, tired me. Depression, I understood. All too well. We are reluctant friends who do not like each other, yet find comfort in our quiet. Mania – well, she was new.
Then Depression decides to move in, carrying more luggage than necessary to do the job. Depression is like an old coat that no one likes. Wooly. Scratchy. Ugly. Smelly. Sad. Depression always overstays its visit. Depression is constantly unpacking baggage. Depression tells me I’m tired, sad and lonely. Depression sulks and cries for no reason. Depression tell me I’m worthless and that I haven’t lived up to my potential so just give up, you cant do that day job anymore, its beyond you. Depression tells me that no one likes me. Depression tells me I’m fat and my face is looking old and nothing I do can help. Depression says not to smile or laugh. Depression tells me it is better to stay in bed. Depression tells me I’m a bad Dad to my children. Depression says I have ruined them. Depression wants to be in the dark, keep the shades closed. Depression cries with me and sometimes I can even find comfort in Depression. Depression makes me selfish and inward looking.”
Hope that makes sense to someone and perhaps helps.
The key thing is that in the last 18 months I have felt the above way about Mania and Depression and work, family etc but for 4-5 months now I have been in a really good place most of the time though Im still navigating my BiPolar day to day and I’ve felt that it has been a bridge to people as I have been able to speak about it within Aviva to my colleagues, People Managers and even one session with our Life CIO and I’m glad that I have been able to perhaps help a few people with their Wellbeing.