What it means to be a Mind member

Jan McCarthy’s 50th birthday was a memorable one, but not for any of the usual reasons.

Below, Mind member Jan talks about her experience of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she turned 50 and why being a Mind member makes her feel less alone and has given her the courage to share her story and use her creativity to help others.

Interested in becoming a Mind member like Jan? Find out more today.

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When I turned 50

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 on that day. It actually came as a huge relief, because for years I’d been taking too much criticism and believing that I was a rotten person. Finally I could start to learn about my condition, focus on how to manage it and try and educate people so they could be more understanding.

Finally I could start to learn about my condition, focus on how to manage it and try and educate people so they could be more understanding.

I grew up constantly blaming myself for problems, but knowledge then was so limited. My mother used to get magazines with horoscopes in, and I just thought I was a typical, unstable Gemini. I managed to build a career as an English teacher, but ended up leaving my job after my diagnosis. It wasn't possible to handle the high levels of stress and learn to self-manage my condition at the same time. 

Shaping a new future

As I began to focus on life after teaching, I found the understanding I needed online. I began reading everything I could about bipolar and eventually became able to write articles for the charity Bipolar UK. Skip forward ten years and I now run a writing group, I am a prolific writer and I have been a finalist in one of the UK’s most prestigious short story competitions.

I see it as my duty to keep spreading awareness of mental health, and have recently reviewed some new information materials for Mind, an opportunity I heard about through the Mind membership. I trust Mind, which is really important, and it made me feel I was doing something useful.

I trust Mind, which is really important, and it made me feel I was doing something useful

Also, I wasn’t that well at the time, and it being online meant it was something I could do safely; I could hide behind my computer in my dressing gown whilst waiting for the depression to pass.

What being a Mind member means to me

It’s a constant frustration that people with mental health problems are disregarded when they have so much to offer intellectually.I do everything I can to keep channelling my creativity and using my voice – and being a Mind member helps to ensure that I don’t feel that like I’m doing this alone.

I do everything I can to keep channelling my creativity and using my voice – and being a Mind member helps to ensure that I don’t feel that like I’m doing this alone.

You can out more bipolar disorder by reading our information. You can also get advice and support by calling our helplines. Find out more about them here.

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