Red Letter Day

19 Jul 2021

I’m 62 soon, a red letter day.

The NHS was formed in 1948*, then life expectancy, for men was 65 and for women was 70. Improvements in medicine mean, today it’s for men 79 and 83 for women. It’s risen every year since 1948.

I have Bipolar, therefore I am on the Serious Mental Illness Register. For over a decade, the NHS has recognised that people on the SMI have shortened life expectancy**. Nationally it’s estimated to be 15-20 years shorter. Locally the average age of death for someone on the SMI is 57 for men and 62 for woman. So, my life expectancy is still worse than it was in 1948.

My feelings are very mixed. First there is anger, that Bipolar, that has taken so much from me, may indirectly take my life. Even that, confuses me, as I have so many times contemplated my own death by suicide, so why do I fear it now? I feel guilty that I don’t keep my self in good physical heath, thus am complicit, as poor physical health is likely to kill me. I feel betrayed by the health service that, I haven’t benefited from its improvements. I feel anxious, that my own death may be fast approaching. But mostly, I feel REALLY ANGRY, yet there is little I can do, and acceptance is hard. I can’t help feeling within days I shall be living on borrowed time. I promise you though, I will live each of those days to the fullest and celebrate them all.


A Moodscope member.

*The history of the NHS in charts - BBC News

**NHS England » Achieving more for people with severe mental illness

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