Time to Talk day 2017...

Today is Time to Talk Day 2017. A day that encourages people to talk honestly and openly about mental illness in support of lifting the stigma surrounding it. I had originally planned to post a Q&A answering questions about bipolar/anxiety and general mental health after asking on twitter and instagram for questions. Lots of people showed support and kindly liked/retweeted but I actually only got one question.

I'm not sure of the reason, it could have been people were afraid to ask, or there wasn't anything people wanted to ask. Either way I must admit I felt a little disappointed. I know my blog is only small but I feel so passionately about normalising mental health and doing my bit to support others and help end the stigma I felt deflated. I thought am I really making any difference? I talk about it a lot on here and twitter but is anyone listening? 

I feel so strongly about mental health awareness because of my own experience. I know what it is like to be discriminated against, ignored, treated differently. That's why I am studying psychology and hoping to work in the field. I want to do something. I want to stop other people from having to go through what I and many others have before me. Writing these blog posts is also cathartic. It feels good to get things out there. So I will continue to write them and hope somewhere, someone is reading them and it is helping them in some way. It took nearly ten years to be diagnosed correctly and I am sick of wasting my life getting nowhere.

So now onto the question that was kindly asked by Dannie:

'What is the biggest misconception about bipolar disorder? (in your opinion)'

In my experience the biggest misconception about bipolar disorder is that people dismiss it as just "having mood swings". Everyone just has mood swings. Bipolar is a lot more complex than that, but it is also difficult to explain. It is about waking up one morning and for no reason whatsoever feeling completely empty and loveless, and feeling like you don't want to be alive. You can't explain why because you don't know why. You just want to stay in bed and cry and not see anyone. Then after a week or two the feeling disappears.

It's about all of a sudden feeling like everything is perfect, and you can do anything. it's about not considering consequences because you can only visualise the moment. It's like being high on drugs. But it's also about feeling irritated by everything and everyone because your mind is racing at 100 miles an hour and nothing can keep up. You look at people you love and feel nothing but annoyance and you hate yourself for it. You can't sleep or eat because you have this great idea that you have to work on. You are shaking because you need to keep moving and doing but you can't focus or concentrate because everything is racing.

* * * *

A few years ago when I was going through the (long) diagnosis process I was put on a work programme as at the time I had no job (I was later ruled unfit for work until I got my diagnosis and the right meds and able to get a job). I was not in a good place at the time and during my first appointment with my advisor told her my situation. Her response was to dismissively say "so sometimes you're happy, sometimes you're sad?!" as if it was nothing. I walked out of that appointment in tears and had a panic attack after I got out of the building. My point is that awareness and understanding is so important. You don't know what someone else is going through. Listen to them. Support them. Be kind.

If you read this: thank you. If you are living with a mental illness then I am sending you love and support. I am always available by email if you want to talk x

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