This is a blog post that has been a very long time coming…months in the making if you will, but it’s one that is very difficult to publish and I warn you now, it’s going to be a bit on the rambling side, but I felt with tomorrow being ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ Day it was a good time to share some news and stand up and be counted along with a silent majority, who through fear or circumstance choose to bite their lips and say nothing, even though they are crying inside…
I’m one of a startling number of people in the UK who are battling mental illness. Believe me, it is indeed a battle. So, to lessen the blow I’m just going to come right out and say it:
My name is Lisa, I’m 36 years old and I have manic depression, also known as Bi-Polar Disorder.
I’m not going to turn this into an essay, I’ll spare you that, but suffice to say that the way the condition affects me is that I’m prone to periods of great depression, inter-mingled with periods of mania. I quite like the mania bit, but I’ve not had that for a while now, although it was a huge feature of my late twenties and early thirties. When you’re manic you are invincible; subject to grandiose thoughts and delusions. With hind-sight I can look back and see exactly when I’ve been ‘off on one’ and it’s honestly very cringe-worthy…but at the same time, the confidence and the strength that such a state gives you is hard to leave behind.
It’s been a tough year, and part of that has been due to my being diagnosed and coming to terms with something that I’ve been battling pretty much all my life. If you know me personally, you’ll know that I’ve experienced a number of health issues over the past few years, and the last thing I’ve needed is to add another to that list. However, by receiving treatment and finally understanding why I feel the way I do I feel that the time is right to come out and say that I have a mental illness. It’s relief to say it, but it’s also the scariest thing that I have ever done…I’m effectively coming out and allowing myself to be counted. 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from some kind of mental illness during their lives, and the majority of those people will never receive the help that they need to be able to deal with their condition. I’m glad that my issue has, at long last, been identified and I’ve been able to begin a course of treatment that I hope in due course will help me deal with what is effectively a life sentence. Yes, I am on medication and yes I do make frequent trips to ‘The Loony Bin’. The first time I went was scary as hell, but I’m getting used to it now.
Bi-Polar for me has been a rollercoaster ride, but my biggest issue has been dealing with terrific periods of depression that at times have left me suicidal. There, I’ve said it, the great taboo. Yes, I’ve considered suicide and thankfully I’ve never gone through with it. Unfortunately, 20% of people with Bi-Polar will successfully take their own lives; I plan to never be counted amongst that number.
I’ve no doubt that the reason it’s been so difficult in recent months has been triggered by losing Dionne, and as anyone who has suffered any kind of loss will tell you the despair of losing someone so close can really push you over the edge. I’m blessed with a partner who has supported me fully through this difficult time, and I’m aware that sometimes my condition must be very difficult for him to deal with and I think he quite frankly deserves a medal for putting up with me as long as he has. The fact that he’s there and supports me unconditionally sometimes feels like the only strength that I have left and I adore him for it.
So, if you know me personally, I’d like you to do something for me please. I’d like you to understand that there are people all around you, close to you, who may be affected by a mental illness, and I’d like you to let them know that you’re there for them and will support them in anyway they need. People need to be open and honest about this great taboo so that others don’t have to suffer in silence and can get the help they need sooner, rather than later. As for me? Please, don’t look at me any differently. Come on, I’ve always been more than a bit odd ( ‘whipding’ as my beloved calls it) and I think if I was to lose my eccentricities I’d become half the person that I am now, so that’s something that I really hope the meds don’t affect. Occasionally I know I become tad distant or down, but please don’t ask me to snap out of it because I will in my own time. Just be a friend. Yes, it is a shame that I have this, but there are plenty of other people who are far worse off and who fight much worse problems every day.
Being Bi-polar is not windswept and interesting, nor is it exotic or ‘special’. Yes, I’m fully aware that there are LOTS of famous people out there who have it, which has made it seem a bit of a ‘trendy’ diagnosis. Trust me, it’s not a diagnosis I would wish anyone to get. Quite frankly, I’d rather have had a chronic case of verruca’s, but alas-poor me, I lucked out on that oneJ
Bi-Polar is now just a ‘thing’ that I live with every day. The diagnosis was just the beginning, and learning to live with this is the tough part..and I hope that I’ll be able to manage it.
Thanks for reading this, I feel quite embarrassed that it’s finally in print, but also relieved too.
BTW- I really like hugs.
Lisa aka Kitty xxx
PS The tattoos Kitty is wearing in this post were created by Whisper Swansong to signify ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’ day, thank yu for sharing these Whisper.
PPS-Before you say it..yes I do know Stephen Fry has Bi-Polar too. He’s a remarkable chap for a lot of reasons and I don’t know how he does it..his documentary, ‘The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive’ is very interesting and he touches on a lot of issues that I can relate to..it helped me a lot and if you want to see it you can find it on Youtube.