Even as a child, my emotions seemed to be out of sync. One minute, I couldn’t stop talking, the next, I couldn’t speak at all.
My parents were often called into my school by teachers, concerned by my lack of communication skills. I was always “the quiet child”. And then, as if a switch had been flicked inside of me, I would be making friends again and seemed “normal”.
I wasn’t depressed, I didn’t cry a lot and I didn’t appear to be an unhappy child. But something wasn’t quite right.
As a teenager, my “mood swings” spiralled. In fact, they became a running joke in my family – everyone put them down to hormones – but they never knew how I would behave from one day to the next.
For several weeks, I would excel at school. Participating in lessons, laughing with my friends, I even became disruptive in class a few times and had to leave the room! But then the next week, I would be a nervous wreck. I felt sick and begged my Mum not to send me to school and when I got there, I would withdraw completely, paying no attention to the subject I was being taught, I would just be gazing out of the window with a million thoughts racing around in my head.
I turned to self-harm at the age of 14, feeling a sense of control and ‘release’ when I was having a ‘down-day’. This is the one thing I am least proud of in my life, but at the time, it felt like I was wearing blinkers… I just couldn’t see anything else happening outside of my own mind.
My sexual relationships lasted for short bursts at a time, as I became detached to people I felt I once “loved” and sought the next one, in the hope that I would feel better again, I guess I blamed the relationships for my feelings of depression.
When loved ones passed away, I disassociated myself from the situation. For an outsider, it may have looked as though I was “being strong” and “carrying on”. I wasn’t, I was simply ignoring the situation, refusing to think about it and instead, focussing on the next big life event that I could tackle.
As my son entered the world, I turned the switch onto “auto pilot” and didn’t stop to think until he turned 4 months old. That’s when my mood completely crashed and I ended up at A&E, with my medication increased. When he turned 15 months, I crashed again, back to A&E and this time, treated with medication used for Major Depressive Disorder. I now know that I had experienced a “Psychotic Episode”. I asked to see a Psychiatrist and finally, we are where we are today.
Now, at the age of 25, I look back on my life and realise how much this makes sense. After 11 long, tiring years, anti-anxiety medication and 3 types of anti-depressive drugs, I have been officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
I don’t feel happy, or glad that I have received this shiny, new badge of mental health disorder, but what I do feel, is relief. I feel that I can look for ways to help myself, as well as the treatment I am due to receive from my GP. I feel like I am going to get better, at last.