Steve, 47, UK

P1010536-01.jpeg“I live with bipolar.
I never say I am bipolar because I’m not ; bipolar is an illness I happen to have but it is not me. I am me. I also try to avoid saying I suffer bipolar, because although for much of the time that is true, there are also periods where having bipolar feels wondrously fantastic.

I don’t get the full blown manias but I do stumble into the odd hypomania where colours pop and fizz, sounds zing and crackle and the most awesome, world changing ideas race through my mind, not just zooming by but swinging in and out of their lanes as they go.
Sounds fun doesn’t it? People pay a lot of money for artificial stimulants that only make them feel and see a tenth of what I do when I’m at the higher end.
But I’ve also been arrested for casually strutting out of store with a lawnmower I hadn’t paid for. A lawnmower I didn’t want or need. I’ve jumped from the first floor window of a house just on a whim. I’ve walked miles, jabbering away to myself only to realise that I had no idea where I was. And I’ve spent money, lots of money on stuff I didn’t need – parcels delivered to the house full of useless things I had no memory of ever looking at, let alone ordering.
Of course, alongside all that are the crippling, hollow, nasty depressions.
They are horrible, everything the hypomanias are not and they’re more frequent too. For those of you who don’t know how clinical depression feels, the answer is it doesn’t. You feel empty, devoid of any emotion, the process of thinking is like pushing a grand piano up a hill made of treacle. Even breathing is hard work and doing nothing other than just making it through the day leaves you physically and mentally exhausted.
I’m lucky I have a fantastic wife and loving family that I can talk to, and who know when to leave me alone or intervene. I’ve been diagnosed for well over a decade and all my professional support workers have been amazing. Although there are blips, the cocktail of medication I take each and every day keep me as stable as I can ever remember being. I’ve put on more than a few pounds thanks to some side effects but I’d rather be chubbier and safe than slim and in constant turmoil.
My advice would be to reach out and never be afraid to try whatever the professionals suggest, some things will work and some won’t but eventually you’ll find whatever is right for you. Be patient and stay strong.
If you’re struggling right now, awaiting a diagnosis or failing to understand what is happening to you, there will be a solution and there most definitely will be better days. I promise. “




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