Thursday, 4 February 2016

#TimeToTalk Mental Health

Well this is something a little different to the norm, but it isn't something I haven't already address on occasion! Today is Time To Talk Day, a day created to get the nation talking about mental health and hopefully smashing this all too often taboo subject.


As most of ya'll know, i have Bipolar. I was diagnosed at 17 officially, despite having very early symptoms, even as early as pre-teen. It runs in my family but before me had mostly effected male members of the family on both of my parents sides. Sometimes i wonder how my life would have been had I not been diagnosed with this but on the same coin i also wonder whether i would be the me i am today without it?


Sometimes its hard to know where to begin when discussing my mental health issues. I've had more than one person say to me 'there's nothing wrong with you, you're so chirpy' - that in itself is something I would love to quash with regards to peoples thoughts on mental health issues. I almost believe it is expected that if you have a mental health problem you should wear a sign stating it, or behave in a way that people can 'relate' to when it comes to those types of issues? But that being said, i would never ever make a negative judgement of someone for not understanding or having had experience of mental health problems. The biggest things for me is that i do function in 'normal' society - i work, I pay my rent, i am in a happy, healthy relationship but sometimes i still get very, indescribably sad. I have lost friends and relationships to the fact people have been 'unable to cope' with my condition, my erratic moods, crippling anxiety about very tiny little thing, suicide attempts and my impulsive, often destructive behaviour.

Since my diagnosis, I have tried a huge variety of medications to try to get my Bipolar under control. I feel that alongside generally discussing mental health, opening up about being medicated is a huge taboo also. Taking medication DOES NOT mean you are weak, unable to cope or taking the 'easy option', sometimes you just need an additional helping hand to smooth things over or take the edge off whilst you deal with everyday life. At the age of around 21 i went through my worst breakdown, i was a mess and was really struggling to see any hope at all - i was unemployed, stuck in a cycle of self harm, I'd lost all my friends because they couldn't handle it anymore and that was when I knew I NEEDED to find a medication that worked properly for me, not just settling for whatever was given first. Medication is different for everyone, what works for one may not work for another but most recently I have been taking Duloxetine. I have been taking this for roughly the last 3 years and for me it has made a huge difference. I have never felt so capable of functioning. Medication is NOT a cure, like I said, it is a helping hand and for me it has been a godsend. Does taking medication mean you will never feel the full force of your symptoms again? No, of course not. But for me, it means I am far more equipped to deal with them when they do hit.

There are many different variations of Bipolar but it effects me in a way that means one minute i can be fine and the next I can be in the darkest, deepest depression for seemingly no reason at all. I have struggled with eating problems, self harm and extreme anxiety as offset symptoms of my Bipolar but the one symptom I feel is really hush hush and embarrassing for me personally is the debt i have gotten myself into. It is known that more often than not people with Bipolar suffer from financial issues due to their impulsivity. I am absolutely one of those people. Its now gotten to the point where it is effecting me enough that money is becoming a huge worry every month, 2 days after i'm paid, I'm overdrawn again. I hate discussing this side of my mental health because i do find it very shameful and out of all the things I've done as a direct, or indirect result of my Bipolar, this is the one i have the most issue speaking out. That is why, when i saw my wonderful fellow Bipolar sufferer Mrs Bebe discussing #TimeToTalk Day, i knew i had to get involved and push my own boundaries in regards to discussing my personal experience of mental health. Its so difficult to speak up about the things that trouble us, whether they are mental health related or not but I feel so passionately about the fact doing so can make sure a difference. Even if one person reads this and feels they can begin to open up about their struggles then that is more than enough difference to me.


I will never be 'cured' of my Bipolar, I will never wake up one day and not suffer from a mental health problem but what I can say is that of late, I am in the best place I have ever been mentally. Being in a healthy, loving and stable relationship has really helped. Again, not a cure, but having that consistent support without judgement or dismissal has made things a great deal easier for me. I still suffer daily with quite bad anxiety, my imagination is incredibly over active and the slightest thing will set my brain off into a tumbling sequence of imaginary events that I will then fret and obsess over constantly to the point that I sometimes feel sick. But with the help of medication, family and friends and dealing with my own mental health myself - I am getting there. Do I still have days where the idea of getting out of bed terrifies and upsets me? Yes. Do I still have days where I feel totally hopeless and useless? Yes. Do I feel like this all the time? No. Not any more.

If we keep talking about mental health, no matter how small the conversation, we can open up and make such a difference to the lives of people with mental health issues, to their families and to human beings in general. #TimeToTalk day is so important so talk to anyone, your friends, your partner, your family, your mental health team, your GP, anyone. You can do this.


Lots Of Love,
KLJ x


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