Speak out – there is nothing to be ashamed of

October 10, 2020

As part of our activity to mark World Mental Health Day, EPUT volunteer Liz shares her experiences of managing her Bipolar and the importance of speaking about the condition.

 

My name is Liz and I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2003. This changed my life.

I live in an old country cottage with my partner and our two lovely springers, Charlie and Boris. We spend a great deal of time in the fresh air walking the dogs and enjoying the sheer beauty of the countryside. I also enjoy practicing mindfulness and meditation.

I am an enthusiastic woman, who likes to spread my positivity to others to improve their mental health and wellbeing, and increase their motivation. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is Mental health for all Greater Investment – Greater Access

I couldn’t agree more with this call to action. Good mental health is a human right – it is time that mental health support is available for all.

Something I often think about is whether we should change the word ‘mental’ to ‘Mind’ when talking about mental health. Would that make it easier for people to talk out about it, and not worry about being judged or misunderstood?

I encourage people to talk, and share their story. Perhaps if I had not hidden behind a mask for years and hidden away, not sharing I wouldn’t have gone through what I did.

I had two different times when I wanted to take my own life. The first was when I went into a psychotic episode and I  convinced I had magical powers. If it wasn’t for my manager at the time who called my parents and  took me to the hospital, I would have taken my own life.

I was in hospital for a month and treated with medication.

When I was discharged I had lost everything, and had to go back and live with my parents who looked after me. They had to watch me 24/7 as I still wanted to end my life.

I lost all motivation and remained in bed for two weeks staring at a tree. I did not wash or eat, it felt like a dark cloak had been pulled over my head.

My mind was blank of any thought.

All I knew was that I didn’t want to be alive anymore.

I don’t know whether I would have survived without the constant encouragement of my parents, and my mum coming up to see me every night and promising me things would get better. It took me 10 months to return to some kind of normal working function.

Unfortunately, I was in denial for many years, continued to party with a concoction of alcohol and drugs and was sectioned numerous times.

I am not sure what made me realise that I needed to start taking hold of the situation, but I am so pleased I did; I changed my lifestyle;

  • I started to take my medication regularly
  • gave up alcohol
  • started eating healthily
  • slept more, important with my condition
  • started to meditate,
  • practice mindfulness,
  • and spent more time in the fresh air going for long walks with my dogs

I researched Bipolar, and learnt a lot.  I attended cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)courses as well as group therapy to help me on the road to recovery.  I also started exploring holistic therapy, which really helped. It enabled me to my mind and discover what worked for me.

I still face challenges, but because I now know what my triggers are, I am able to cope with my mind-set better and avoid hospitalisation.

I am now a qualified mental health First Aid Trainer and holistic therapist so I can offer training and support to other people.

Someone once asked me,  If you went back to your younger years would you change anything? I replied I would talk about my emotions, not be afraid to speak out, and be my authentic self. I also would not worry about what people thought and I’d look after myself more.

It is not easy sharing, or speaking out about how we feel  but believe me I have learnt the hard way. I encourage you not to be afraid. Speak out and you will soon realise that you are not alone, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.