Chris, 21, Portsmouth, UK

image1“I have Bipolar Disorder commonly known as Manic Depression. Life’s been tough for a long time and for many years since everything all started. I can remember having the feeling that for some reason I was different to other people from a young age.

It all started when I moved to secondary school. When I moved into year 7 I was severely bullied at my first school for many months before I moved to another local secondary school. However, despite a promising start, this bullying continued again for the rest of my time at secondary school.

The school was a very unhappy time, to put it mildly. I slipped into a deep depression during this time as socially I was isolated and didn’t have many friends. There was no sign of bipolar at this point.

I also started to pick up severe anxiety, I can remember when I was at school I had my first anxiety attack, this was when I was sat in a classroom during an English lesson in year 10, I looked down and when I looked back up everything changed. I felt an almost out of body experience, I felt like this wasn’t me and that I was watching myself and watching my life go by, it felt like I had no control over myself and was completely disconnected from my emotions.

Ever since that first anxiety attack, I can’t say I’ve felt myself much or anything. Over the following years, I continued to be in a depression state during my time at college. When I was at college I was successful but that all changed when my bipolar came in.

I was despite my depression working 40 odd hours a week alongside full-time college as a distraction from everything and to focus on career only, as I had barely any friends and nothing else in life to keep me going apart from the belief of a successful career. With my money the day I turned 18 I set up a stock trading account and invested money and traded on equities on the financial markets in London. I was lucky to be in a bull market and made 89% profit first year. With this, I had luxuries and went to the French Riviera and watched the Monaco F1 and splashed £3k on a week-long holiday there which was the peak of everything and since then it all went downhill.

During the end of my time at college, my bipolar started to kick in. I had gone to the doctors three times before that to get medication for depression which I was denied until the third time which was a disgrace. I started to experience manic highs and lows. The way my bipolar type 2 works my mood swings happen during a day rather than over a period of months so one morning I could be on a manic high and then in the afternoon I could be at a rock bottom low. During the highs in the summer, my world came crashing down. As well as other high symptoms of doing massively high risk taking stuff my most damaging highs were financially damaging and the consequences I’m still living with and trying to clear up. I gambled but gambled big, the stock market some people call gambling but I call it strategic gambling rather than all out. I ended up down the all out route. On manic highs over a period of less than a month I gambled away all my life savings, all my cash I had built up from trading and got myself into debt. Overall over £60,000. The worst was gambling away £33,000 in one bet.

When you’re in a manic high you feel on top of the world, like your invincible and like you can take anything on. I went from a successful trader for myself in a strong financial position for uni, starting up a business and a deposit on a mortgage to nothing because of a manic high. Other things I’d do on a manic high would be excessive drinking, excessive drugs taking and crazy stuff like bursting out singing in the middle of nowhere. To go from manic highs to a manic low is severely damaging. You get the typical loss of motivation, not getting out of bed, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, loss of interest and loss of socialising as well. During a manic low two years ago I attempted my first suicide attempt. I had to go to the hospital, luckily I was fine, not that I felt that at the time, they released me that night but looking back I should have asked to stay in and get the help and support I needed, maybe I would have got my diagnosis quicker.

I went to uni in Cardiff last year but because of my bipolar and flicking between highs and lows, I had to leave two-thirds of the way through the year. I finally, however, got a diagnosis of bipolar after being referred to a mental health medical center, I was placed under medication Olanzapine, which has been raised four times since I started taking it a year ago. I then went back to uni in Cardiff again last year in September. Hopeful things were going to get better. However, they didn’t. This academic year in the three months I was there I experienced three massive relapses, two major highs, and two major lows. I had to come home last month because my attendance at uni was below 5% again.

Next year I will be going to Liverpool Uni, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to cope better and finally be able to make things work. Despite being under medication there’s a long recovery and a constant battle of bipolar. I still get highs and lows which play with my life. Recently especially I’ve been massively mentally unstable, I still have the feeling of anxiety and the feeling of having no personality, my confidence is very low, I’m very good at covering it all up. I get nightmares, anxiety attacks that the house is going to catch fire, cars etc going to crash among others and crippling suicidal tendencies which are a pretty much daily occurrence, I’ve never been closer but I’m hopeful things will change over the coming months and years.

I’m still trying to find coping strategies, socialising with friends I have helped, I’ve lost a lot of friends that I have had over the last few years with everything. So to put it short having bipolar is a battle which even with medication like other mental illnesses is an ongoing survival challenge during life. Hopefully, things will improve though and get more under control. It’s no different to a physical illness just mentally in the brain.”

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