Tonight I watched as some brave individuals played out their mental illness in a documentary on channel 5, Me and My Mental Illness, and I thought, why is this not me? Why do I hide as much as I do when this is such a large part of my life? The only answer I could come up with... fear.
Since being diagnosed with Bipolar a few years ago, I haven't been quiet about it but I haven't exactly shouted. If asked, I'll tell. If I'm struggling and I have to explain, I'll explain. If there is a discussion, I will discuss. I have written about it, but mainly to explain to those effected by my episode at the time. However, I find myself at a blank when it comes to writing about it properly, and the only reason being, once it's out there, it's out there and I can't take it back.
I think I have more fear of 'the label' than I do of the illness, which is madness. It is 2016 and we have so much more research into these things now and it is ridiculous I should feel that way.
According to my Mental Health team, I have had bipolar since I was 13 years old. Turns out my 'off the rail' teen years were pretty average behaviour for a Bipolar patient. My unpredictable nature, my completely nonsensical and off season dress sense, my inability to read other people. My black outs and none sleeping. My need to fit in, for someone to love me and to feel like I am loved. My inability to see when I was being used, my vulnerability and my higher than normal sex drive and then my complete lack of sex drive at all. My ability to create something out of nothing, good and bad. My medical rollercoaster. My love of crazy and things that make absolutely no sense. My bad days, my suicide attempts, my inability to move and want to be on this planet, my complete lack of motivation. My teenage pregnancy, my extreme version of PND and PTSD, my ability to hide the lows to those who could have potentially helped me. My mess, my embarrassment, my tears, my rage. My complete self loathing and self contempt. My inability to parent on days in which I needed too the most. My debts, my habits, my history, my strength and my vulnerability, my whole life now seems to make sense.
And NO, just to clear this up, I haven't just diagnosed myself, dreamt it up so to excuse my behaviour or am I a hypochondriac. These are things I know many close, and not so close, to me have said or thought over the past few years and to those people I need to say, I'm not that great an actress, if I was, I'd be rich. I can not fool a full team of Dr's, nor can I talk myself into a diagnosis such as Bipolar. This stigma you carry over me is degrading and debilitating and until you see what this does to people, then you will forever be ignorant and I pity you for this.
I do question myself and my behaviour a lot now. "did I do that because of the bipolar or because I'm just a twat?", "did that actually happen or did I just think it happened?" "when the fuck did I buy that?" that kind of thing. I have no idea who I really am now and I don't think I have ever known or will ever completely know myself, because I'm inside the nightmare that is my head and it isn't all that fun.
I do not excuse my past bad behaviour on this disorder, I take full responsibility and I now have the ability to take in and learn from it all. However one of my fears of speaking out is that those who have wronged me in the past will now take advantage of the situation and use the information to make themselves the innocent party. I do know what I know and after many a psychiatric assessment and therapy session, I know that there are people out there who did me wrong in many ways. Lot's of things have been lost in a blur but certain things will stay strongly in my mind forever, mental illness, strong medication or not. These people are largely to blame when my mood takes a tumble for the worse and I can't deny that. My ability to leave the past behind me is limited, as my past makes up a great deal of what is me. Certain behaviour of others will never be forgiven or forgotten.
Onwards and upwards is my motto at the moment though. I will not fear this Mental Illness, I will not fear the Stigma that still surrounds it, nor the people who carry it. I will find life outside of my complicated brain and I will not let it beat me. I have Bipolar, I am not Bipolar and therefore I will be just fine.
This documentary on Channel 5 is a must see. Please try and catch it on demand, if not for you but for your children. If you can educate yourself in Mental Illness then you may just save your child from the life I lead for so many years.