There is so much stigma around mental illness and it’s vital that we break this down. There always has been this stigma throughout the years and although things have gotten gradually a little better, there is still far too much stigma where there should be none. In its place should be understanding, knowledge, support and acceptance.
Today is World Mental Health Day, a globally recognised day to talk about mental health, to raise awareness about it and to try to break down the stigma that is associated with it. This should be something that is worked on every single day but having a day like this that draws attention to the subject, that gets people talking about it, can only be a good thing.
The word 'recovery' doesn’t work for me when it comes to my mental health and that’s fine. It may work for plenty of other people and that’s fine too. When I think of my Bipolar Disorder I know that it’s something that is life long; there is no cure for it and it’s something I’ve had to come to terms with. To me, that means that I can’t recover from it.
I have suffered from mental illness for the majority of life, since being a preteen. It is something that has made life extremely hard, and when it was joined by fibromyalgia and mobility issues, daily life became something to really contend with.
Rises and dips in mood have been a part of my life like a swinging pendulum, always there in the background threatening to swing forward and take over. It’s something that I’ve struggled with from being very young as part of my Bipolar Disorder and is something that I have been forced to develop strategies to deal with over time.
One of the hardest things I’ve found about being diagnosed with a lifelong illness, whether this is a mental illness or a physical one, is the impact that can have on your life and your ability to function. It can change things so much, and while you are finding ways to deal with your symptoms and doing your best to cope, the dreams and goals that you had for your life can be set aside or become unrealistic.
When you are attending medical appointments, it’s important that you are prepared to advocate for yourself to get the diagnosis and treatment that you need. These tips can apply to any illness, not just Bipolar Disorder. I also use them for my Fibromyalgia and other mental illnesses. They can apply in any setting, whether this is with your local doctor, a specialist or with psychiatric services.
A relationship endsUnsurprisingly, the relationship I was in fell apart due to my erratic and difficult behaviour combined with my partner's inability to understand and cope with this, and I moved out of the place I shared with him. With the help of my parents, I moved into a lovely family’s home over the holidays and became a lodger with them so I could continue at university.
Sadly, when the ways I was trying to cope became unsuccessful and in fact started to make things worse for me, I started to self-harm. I hurt myself for so many reasons: to punish myself for behaving the way I was; to have something that I could control in a sea of things that I couldn’t; to express the extreme hurt I was feeling inside on the outside as something I could see and at least deal with in some way.