A recent mental health awareness advert read something like: 'One in Four of us has a mental health problem. More than one in four of us has a problem with that.'
Receiving a diagnosis can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes it's both.
I was finally diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 42, just after the birth of my second child eight years ago. For me it was the most enormous relief: finally I had a reason for why I got ill for three to six months every two and a half years. From the age of seven these mysterious illnesses had been blamed on everything from post viral fatigue through over-work to "It's just your imagination; it's purely psychosomatic, you know!" At last the puzzle was solved; I had a way forward and treatments to investigate.
For my family, the diagnosis was a heavy blow. Shocked, my husband reacted: "But I don't want a mad wife!" My mother and siblings reacted by becoming even more worried and anxious about me. Eight years on they still worry and my (lovely, caring) husband prefers to ignore it as much as possible.
I could have kept the diagnosis private, I suppose, but I wanted to fight for mental health to be a more acceptable issue. I tell people it's a bit like having a condition like diabetes. It's a bore, it has to be managed, it stops me doing things sometimes, and yes, it's a life-long condition with some specific life-threatening issues. But it's not something I'm ashamed of.
And most of us just keep on going, don't we? We gratefully swallow the drugs that make it possible for us to get out of bed in the mornings and get through the day somehow. We still carry out our duties when the world retreats behind the thick plate glass or fades to monochrome or tastes like ashes and sawdust in our mouths.
We are heroes and we should be proud of ourselves – regardless of what the 'Proud' card says on Moodscope today! Pat yourself on the back for actually getting up this morning, because we know it's often not that easy. Well Done Us!
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