Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Dumping the Stigma and Focusing on Recovery

This is going to be the hardest blog to write yet. I dont normally care what people think of me but I hate the fact that people see me as "mentally ill" as it paints the picture of me being in some institute wearing a straight jacket. I havent been sectioned but I was ill, I did seek help and I did go into hospital but it was voluntry and informal. I know that there will be alot of so called friends that will read this and still have thier own view on this but that shows more about thier lack of compassion and thier own niave and uneducated small minds. understanding, love and compassion really are the best medicine! Untill you've lived in my bipolar head...dont judge me!!At the end of the day...the ones that will mock, joke and gossip about this need to remember. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain...whats your excuse?

For those of you that read the last blog you know that I have been experiancing one of my depressive episodes.

What's It Like Being Hospitalized for Bipolar? first of all let me make it clear that I wasnt "sectioned". I was feeling in a really dark place and under the calm exterior was a very unquiet mind. In my experience, it's a strange occurrence to be on a locked psychiatric ward. They tell you that the locked aspect of the ward is for safety purposes. It's odd not to be able to come and go but when your in a critical state, I suppose it is safe to be "locked in". I dont remeber alot about arriving at the hosptial. I got a taxi and cried the whole way there (I remeber it feeling very surreal and feeling very alone). I was very spaced out due to the 12 valium I had taken in the last 48 hours. They then evaluate you and then give you a physical examination...I remeber having high blood presure and having blood taken. They then take away anything that you could potentially harm yourself with (hair strightners, phone charger, can of coke) and I was shown to my room. The first day being in hospital is the hardest...and even with further valium and zoplicone I couldnt sleep. I was there for three days and everyday I woke up at 4am. I didnt shower til my last day which sounds awful but when you feel shit...you dont care. My family where fantastic and in a weird way I think it was harder on them than it was on me.

For years, Ive suffered with a mental disability. No one has found a cure for manic depression (bipolar disorder). During those crisis years, nobody knew anything was really wrong with me. I was experiencing a wild rollercoaster ride of frightening highs and lows that put my life in jeopardy, but my disability is completely invisible. Most people that know me wouldnt have a clue what goes on inside my head. Granted, I was behaving rather erratically. At the same time, I was drinking heavily, partying hard, being VERY spontenious, engaging in sex with complete strangers, staying up for days on end, and in general living on the edge ... But that was my highs and its completly invisable.

Alot of people are quick to say "Do this" "try that". "cheer up" "focus on positive things" "Just remeber that there are people that are so much worse off than you". IT DOESN'T FUCKING HELP!!! Ive tried this for years and now ive got to crisis point! Its like cooking... Its no good just having the right ingredients, you need to have a recipe. I KNOW WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE! Its no good walking in the kitchen and critizing me (its even worse doing it behind my back). It takes effort and sometimes you need to recognise that you need help otherwise the meal will never get cooked! This is basically what happened...

Once I was re diagnosed and hospitalised I realised things would have to change. And no, friends did not come rushing to my side to support me in battling against my illness. All of a sudden I realized the stigma of having a mental illness - it hit me smack between the eyes. And the stigma was almost as bad as having to come to terms with the fact that I was mentally ill and needed treatment. I was diagnosed in 2008 and Ive stupidly thought that I could handle it and treat myself...If other people dont think I have a problem then its fine. Yes I get "depresseded" every now and then but i know that the dark mist will lift and the highs will return... But the highs are just as damaging!

So maybe its a good idea to expalain a little bit about BiPolar. Bi-Polar Disorder is the modern name for what used to be called "Manic Depression". As the old name suggests, people with Bi-Polar tend to have severe mood swings between intense feelings of depression and despair, on the one hand, and wild bouts of mania where they feel "on top of the world", elated and bursting with energy.

When I feel down most people dont see this because I will hide away from the world. I litterally disapear for a few days. Emotionally I have feelings of unhappiness that don't go away, I lie in bed and burst into tears for no reason. I feel useless, inadequate and hopeless. I have zero self-confidence. I either eat nothing or binge eat..I have difficulty in concentrating and I find it hard to make simple decisions. I avoid contact with friends and family and have difficuly in starting and completing simple everyday chores. Its difficult to even get myself dressed and showered.

Then comes the mania (the bit people see more)... very happy and excited, I hate it when people dont share my optamistic look on life. Im full of new and exciting ideas and move quickly from one idea to another. I party HARD and talk alot. I recklessly spend money, Im over-familiar or recklessly critical with other people. Im spontenious and Im generally less inhibited.

(when your depressed you realise there is a problem when you are in a manic state you dont see it as a problem).

There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder; so then we also have hypo mania and mixed episodes. (Hypomania is a less severe form of mania). There are also three types of Bi polar......... but this is getting very boring!

Alot of friends were ignorant of the many aspects of the illness. Bi polar is a lifetime chronic, relapsing illness. Medication alone is not enough to fully control bipolar. This is the main reason for this blog. it helps to empty my mind and keep track on how im feeling. I need to monitor my moods.

Having a surportive enviroment is massivly important and David (The Jew) has been my rock through this. Most people hope to make a diffrence in someones life and I can honestly say that I dont know where I would be without him. I hope that one day I will be able to help someone as much as he has heleped me. dont get me wrong.....Ive had messages of support off so many people and I genuinly appreciate it but his friendship and support has been lifechanging. he really is an actual angel.

Some people think that I shouldnt write this blog and quite frankly if you are reading this and you are one of those people I think you should stop reading this, stop judging me and sort out your own lives. Would you think the same if I had a "physical illness". of Course you wouldnt, youd be sympathetc and support me. I hate the stigma that goes with BiPolar!

BiPolar has affected my work, friendships and past relationships (Liam not Alex...Alex was just a cunt) as well as my family and was probably alot of the reason I ended up in care. I worry that im never going to have a normal life because of my illness and when I see "crazy people" I worry that I will end up like them.

On the plus side people with Bipolar disorder tend to have more passion, compassion and determaination than alot of other people. We make great friends as we understand lifes ups and downs.

After coming out of hospital I went to Hemel and spent some time with my family who have been absolutly incredible...there compassion and love has been unbelieveable. It was my sisters bday and hen do over this time. I attempted to have a vodka on my sisters bday which ended in tears...oceans of tears and lots of vomit (yuck). Two vodkas made me dizzy, sleepy and gave me extreme nausea (always read the small print). While I spent most of the evening on my mums bathroom floor with her holding my hair and rubbing my back her advice was " darling, your lifestyle is really going to have to change". At that moment I realised that I loved my mum but really fucking hate my life!

The next night was my sisters hen night in London. This whole episode has made me lose ALOT of confidence. Im a party girl...always have been and I feel like Im losing my identity (and this is a big deal). After last nights episode I decided NOT to take my mediaction (and before I get critised for this I did discuss this with the crisis team). I cant say it was the best club Ive ever been to but we definitly made the most of it! It was a hillarious night! I cant say I have my confidence back but I was with girls that I have known for alot of years and that know me really well. The theme was flappers and gansters. It was very girly and alot of fun.... I cant wait for the wedding! Jamaica in a few weeks!!

Unless I wrote this blog (or you lived with me) you really wouldnt even realise I was a manic depressive. But I do realise that things have got to change in my life. My Bipolar isnt the end of the world...Its the begining of a new one!


  1. Janice,

    I really liked the open and heart felt blog you wrote. In Maori we say Kia Kaha, which means Be Strong. All the best hun - keep smiling.


    RJ x @walkaboutkiwi

  2. janice

    you are one off the most amazing couragious woman i have ever known.thank you for giving me an insight to what you have been experiencing.im here for you always.

    dan xx

  3. i just liked my new irish friend and i wouldnt of met her without you!!!!

    let he who hath no sin cast the first stone.
    Let people judge you janice because sometimes thats all they have but its not the only thing you have ......x

  4. I hope this is of some use - I find your case very interesting. Has anyone said that you have bipolar with a form of borderline personality disorder? Your symptoms sound fast in altering from highs to lows. Also is there a little paranoia - your writing seems quite accusive in nature at times ie, 'so called friends' etc. Going for treatment is the best thing you could have done - treatment with medication and coucilling/behavioural therapies is extremely sucessful. I wish you all the best - good luck.

  5. There isnt any "paranoia" and there have been alot of "so called friends". When you really hit a low point you find out who really is a friend. It has nothing to do with not understanding or not knowing how to deal with it...Its just a matter of finding out who cares and who doesnt. I havent asked anything off anyone and have seeked helped off my own back.
    Your right..the highs and lows are fast in altering...except this low has been around alot longer than normal.
    Its an intresting point about the personality disorder and I will discuss this with my doctor.
    Thankyou for taking the time to read it and thankyou for your feeback.

  6. In return to your post - you should never feel guilty for asking for help and support -thats what your family and friends are for, not that you have asked - I know. Again, good luck and hang on in there, it will get better, even if it has to get worse first. Always a pleasure to read.

  7. ah love this! im a gay man trapped in a girls body too!! ;) go hags! xx

  8. loving and thinking of you from far far away.xxx

  9. Depression is a physical medical illness, the body can create bad chemicals which alter the signals to the brain thus changing the way the brain works. It is made worse by the need for addictions which are normally substance abuse of some kind which can be drugs/drink/food. There are reasons too for self harm which can become a drug as it releases chemicals into the body again and a rush of high. Sadly it is only linked as a mental illness and the way most nhs medical ways are to treat it with drugs, which can help but what happens if you are allergic to these drugs? I have never been on here before but I think you are right that this can be good therapy for people with this condition or another form of depression. You could be an inspiration to so many fellow sufferers, thank you for sharing your life and thoughts to help others get through theirs.