Diagnosis is a relief because I don't think I took it seriously until now. People tell you your fine and you want to believe it, you know that your life isn't typical of most 30 year olds (31 shit, I'm now 31) but you think that if you ignore it somehow it will go away. You hear horror stories about the medication and worry how it will effect your weight / work / personality. You're damned if you do and your damned if you don't!
On average there is an EIGHT year delay in diagnosing bipolar so by the time that your offered help and you except the help you start looking back and realise that alot of the damage has been done. Its easy to misdiagnose bipolar and like me you have to hit crisis point before you start getting better.
Looking back at my teenage years I was sure they were quite normal. I was a 90's teen and we had alot of fun. We started drinking at about 14, we would go to our local indie night or hang out in the old town under the arches. This was the location where most of us hung out in Hemel Hempstead but I think it was a typical nationwide 90's thing. You would put your money together and buy cider and cigarettes. Most people smoked Marlbro lights and you would generally buy a 2ltr bottle of cider, the brand didnt matter - the cheapest would do!
Diamond white (or blush) was the cider of choice but a 4 pack was quite expensive. Alternatively we would buy Maddog 20 20 or thunderbirds, back then we didnt have the luxary or alcopops (hooch wasn't even around).
There was a huge music phenomenon going on - brit pop! But the other "indie / grunge" kids also liked US grunge and alot were into the rave scene. I also liked alot of the 90's R&B (that was massively influenced by Donna) and I suppose there was always the secret fag hag inside that had a soft spot for the shit(though I'm sure I kept that quiet).
From what I can remember most of the boys had long hair and everyone wore DM's. I personally had three pairs, black (for school), cherry red and my awful yellow ones (I bloody loved them at the time and went to Camden to buy them). In the summer people wore converse and the girls wore cute skinny fit tshirts. Crochet jumpers were huge and so was long flowery skirts. The more intelligent kids were supporting Greenpeace and animal rights and we would all queue for hours and pay to go in the pavillion to dance and watch live PA's such as credit to the nation. It wasn't really about the fashion or music for me as I also hung out at the coconut club. For me it was the people. Maybe I'm looking back with rose tinted glasses but we did all have fun and everyone got on even though we were all quite different. Everyone was labelled as a goth even though most were not "goths" but we all mixed well.
My best friends during that time were; Nikkie (we got up to alot of mischief), Lucy, Georgia, Donna and Rachael.
Rachael and Georgia were known at school as the "gothic lesbians" but they were neither gothic or lesbians. Nikkie and I grew apart (for no real reason and we are good friends now) and Lucy moved to Hitchen (which may aswell have been Australia) so that left (from my school year) Me, Donna, Georgia and Rachael;
Georgias brother and his mates were a few years older than us and we definitely looked up to them. They were in bands and liked cool music and never made us feel like Georgia was the annoying little sister and we were the annoying young mates. There was also my friend Luke, he was the same age as me (infact one day older) but he always seemed so much older and steeetwise (kind of rare in most teenage boys). Luke and I was in the same class at school and would often be sent to T3 together and we would often chat in smokers alley. I really did look up to him and I always knew that even though we didn't always hang out together if I got in trouble on a night out he would look after me! I remember being about 15 in a club and being a bit "paranoid" and him looking after me..after a few mins I was fine and danced but if it wasnt for him I would have been a total mess!
I was talking to a mate recently who said that kids didn't do drugs when we was young but I have to disagree. I didn't really know of anyone doing cocaine BUT I do remember people smoking, doing pills, speed was massively popular and I remember people doing acid. Even if you didn't do it (AND MOST DIDNT) you certainly was aware of it. There were certainly kids in my year that would smoke a joint at lunch in smokers alley.
After a few years of binge drinking out of a three litre bottle of cider we decided to start going to the local nightclub "La Mirage". We would get dressed up and meet at Rachaels house. We wasn't even sixth form age at this time so god knows how we got away with it (or how we could afford it). We would get the H1 to the station have a few half lagers or ciders and then walk home (we nearly got ourselves in trouble a few times). Yes we was reckless BUT I would argue that this is pretty typical teenager behaviour. We were not bad kids - infact the other three were straight A students! What makes my teenage years slightly different and probably showed indications of my "BiPolar Life" were things like my self harming, my bad sleeping habits, my short temper, my lack of focus, phantom pains, teachers always thought that I could and should be doing better but I hated school and I could never hold my attention. I would rather mess about than work and got sent to T3 alot. I wasnt a bad child, far from it....I just couldn't stay focused. There were alot of things going on in my home life and in the end my mum had no option but to put me in care as I was beginning to damage my family life and my mum had zero support from my dad who had left.
My first foster placement was in St Albans and I was with a girl from my year Sam. She was a fun girl and didnt give a shit what people thought about her...I always quite admired that. She had a real bizarre fascination for Robbie Williams (which really wasn't cool at the time) and she was also a bit of a live wire and i was and still am very easily led! We got dropped at school and she decided that we wouldn't go to school and we would head to London to see this guy she was seeing in Walthamstow. She said that he was close mates with the guy in East 17 and quite frankly I thought she was full of shit...turns out she wasn't and we spent the day with these random E17 guys. But by this time it was quite typical of my behaviour. Evenings were spent hanging around town as we (me and my foster brother) hated being home. I hated being in care (apart from Dave France) and as soon as I finished my GCSEs I packed up and moved to Hastings. Aged 16 I was working in a holiday park and renting a room in a place that I knew no one...I suppose that is kind of weird behaviour! I came back in the September and went back to school for a year although I wasn't interested in school work and wasn't really interested in school. The teachers had already labelled me as a trouble kid and it was quite clear they didn't want me there. By this time I was living back with my family and started seeing a boy at school. Gary was my first proper boyfriend and first love (a lot like love) and I was with him for a couple of years. He was a good influence on me and he was a huge part of my life. My family absolutely adored him and I liked all his family and friends. I really did think the world of Gary and he did me. We broke up when I was 18 and it turned quite bitter for a few years as he didn't really understand why I didn't want to be with him anymore...I suppose it was out of his control and he was actually really vile to me. I hated him and he hated me but we are now friends and I often chat which is nice. As I said it ended badly and I decided that I wanted to get away so I went on holiday to Greece. I fell in love with the place and on a whim I decided to not board my flight home. I had no money, no job and no where to live but I didn't really think that far ahead! I called my mum and quit my job and spent 6 months in the sunshine with some amazing people and drinking sambucca......But that is a whole different story!
My closest mates from Sidari 1998 were Vickie, Ben and Jonty. The winter we all spent as much time together as possible and every weekend we would all meet up...normally i would get the national express to Manchester and meet Vickie. We would head to the midlands and Saturday night would normally be spent in progress in Derby or Passion in Coalville. Passion was our favorite!
May 1999 vickie and I headed back to Sidari with my friend Gemma and a few other mates from Hemel joined us. 99 was good but certainly didn't compare to 98! I partied hard and drank heavily. I was never home before sunrise and I was hammered everyday! I wouldn't dream of ever leaving the club before it closed (Didnt close until the sun came up).
The 90's were basically a big drunken haze. It was a rollercoaster ride of a decade and I havent even posted the half of it! My illness has brought me where I am today and if I had been diagnosed earlier I wouldn't have experienced so many wonderful things. Looking back the signs were all there but no body spotted them and even if they had i doubt i would have agreed with them. I was just having fun. I was riding a bike without a licence at one point in 99. I would drive drunk and the roads in Sidari were not the safest and I certainly never wore a helmet. I dint really have many low episodes (from what i remember) but my behaviour was very self-destructive. When I was on a high" I didt think too much about what I'm doing. My personal self-destructive behavior is compulsive spending, drinking along with other things that I dont really want to post. I also have always had sleep issues.
Im glad I have got to this stage as I can now take a new direction in life. I know it wont be easy as I feel like im losing my identity...But I'm looking forward to the future and losing some of my bad and self destructive habits. Ive got alot of wonderful people around me and have an amazing mum, step dad and sisters who have been fantastic.
People can say alot of hurtful things about Bipolar and that's normally because they are uninformed and alot of the time they THINK they are giving good advice. The best thing that has come out of this blog is the emails that I have received. People dont talk about mental illness but there are so many of my friends that have been through this (some have been through alot worse) and some that are at a similar stage to me. I have friends that have family and friends that have lost loved ones through it. Ive been shown an overwhelming abount of support. Even if I just send a text saying thankyou it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate it. Ive always emotionally hidden away as a survival defense. This means that although i put it all out there on this blog...Im not good at talking about stuff in the real world. Never have been and probably never will be. But I just want to say that I really to appreciate it.
I turned 31 this weekend. It was Easter weekend so it would normally have all the ingredients for a mad weekend but as i said before things have to change. Thursday I stopped into see Steve Monohan and had a good chat and catch up. Its the first person that I have spoken to at work about it. Steve and I are very bad influences on each other and we made the mistake of having a cheeky vodka. I absolutely adore Steve and it no matter what Ive said...This did me the world of good. We drank, we chatted and i got alot off my chest. He understands me and is never judgemental. I then left his as i was meeting up with Gwen and RJ. They were on a mission to get me out and let my hair down. I can honestly say it was one of my best ever nights in Flame. Normally I would carry on all weekend but this is the new Janice! I decided that I was going to ignore my bday and stay 30 but my sister had other ideas. She said that even if I didnt want to drink or party hard I still needed to celebrate my birthday so she got a last minute caravan in Norfolk through her work and we took my niece to Sunny Hunny. I think she was concerned that I would be bored but I had so much fun and really appreciate how thoughtful it was of her to do it...It has lifted my mood so much! We had a chance to chat and get her perspective. It also gave me a chance to spend time with my gorgeous niece Tia. She had the opportunity to see the park which is good for her job and it got me out of Luton. There is so much that I could write about this weekend but most of it would only be funny to Charlie and me. You really cant beat a bit of good old fashioned seaside fun. I wont pretend that I stayed alcohol free but I certainly didn't binge drink.