As it is mental health awareness day, I thought I would do something a little different with my blog. I spoke to a close friend of mine about her struggles with mental health.
One of my very best friends has a diagnosis of Bipolar Type 2. This means that she literally fights a battle with her brain every day; feeling extremes of emotion that can leave her feeling overwhelmed, anxious, deeply depressed or even believing that harming herself is the best thing to do.
Rather than writing in my usual style, I thought I would use her own words, so I send off a list of questions. Here are the answers.
What is your exact diagnosis?
I am diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder type 2 and OCD of intrusion.
When were you first diagnosed?
After 3 years of many assessments, psychologists, psychiatrists and CBT therapy, I was finally diagnosed in December 2009.
What issues did you face trying to get help?
Anxiety was the main factor, the one emotion I had the most difficulty in controlling. I would experience true to life visions and intrusive thoughts. My GP was very good, I am very lucky. She had everything in place almost immediately and would see me once a week for 3 years to support me. I have so much trust in her.
How do you manage your mental health?
Over the last 10 years, I have needed a lot of support from medical professionals. At the moment though, it is controlled just by medication, routine and support networks. The extra help is always available should I need it, I just need to call my GP and she fast tracks any referrals . My husband is a massive support.
What is it like having issues with your mental health when you have to also be a parent?
Sometimes its hard , the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face was intrusive thoughts based around hurting my own children. I was heartbroken and couldn’t go near them out of fear it would trigger intrusive thoughts which I’ve never got used to, or dealt with well. Ultimately though, they are my world, all I ever wanted was to be a mum. They pull me through, every single time. My teenage children are so very good and patient and have a good understanding of bipolar, my triggers, and what needs to be done to get better. My younger 2 children, honestly are quite shielded and oblivious at the moment. I am very blessed.
What do you want for the future of mental health awareness?
I would like sufferers to feel more confident to speak out. No subject is a surprise to professionals. I have been very lucky, but I know others have not. I’d like to see more localised free of charge support groups, and more 24hr helplines for specific conditions.
Mental health is something that everybody deals with at some time in their life. There are some fantastic people and resources out there if you need extra support. Nobody should ever suffer alone.