Dealing with mental illness

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To anyone who knows me it’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my mental health over the past few years. Until now I haven’t said anything about this publicly. I’m writing this in the hope that it encourages someone who thinks they may have a mental illness to seek help.

Where it all began

I’d known something wasn’t quite right since my teens but hadn’t done anything about it. I think I was scared of becoming dependent on medication that would turn me into a zombie or ending up in a straight jacket.

After reading a blog post by Remy Sharp I finally decided to make an appointment with my GP. As a result I was diagnosed with clinical depression and started taking anti-depressants.

Anti-depressants didn’t sit well with me. They gave me crippling anxiety to the point of not being able to leave the house. It got so bad that I decided to wean myself off them. I needed help but this clearly wasn’t the help I needed.

Next steps

At some point I came across a talk by Greg Baugues where he talks about how he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Whilst watching the talk my wife pointed out that he was describing me. It all seemed so familiar.

After a nudge from my wife I took the leap and had myself referred to a psychiatrist. I explained what I had been going through to him. He went on to diagnose me with type 2 bipolar disorder.

People with bipolar disorder are succeptable to behaving impulsively which can have a negative impact on themselves and those around them. Because of this you can be hit pretty hard by devastating guilt and regret once the medication starts to work.

It took me some time to learn how to deal with this. I saw a therapist for a while but that wasn’t helping. Ultimately I learned that these bouts of remorse were only temporary so I just had to accept them and wait for them to pass.

Finding support

I cannot stress highly enough how important it is to have someone who cares about you fighting your corner. You won’t always have the strength to do it yourself. Seeking help isn’t easy and you will have to fight to get what you need.

If it wasn’t for the support of my wife I may not be here writing this blog post. She stood by me the whole time, consoling me when I couldn’t see a way out. She accompanied me to appointments and remained strong whilst I was falling apart. I can’t thank her enough. I literally owe her my life.

Conclusion

It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. It’s taken everything I have. I’ve also been lucky to have the support and understanding of my close family and the people I work with. There will still be ups and downs, that’s just part of being alive. At least now I’m able to deal with them appropriately and lead a close to normal life.