Rebecca blogs about her relationship with a radio DJ through the ups and downs of her bipolar, and how she feels he saved her life.
The last decade (my thirties) was a time that was dominated by extreme moods, both high and low. In spite of having good friends and a loving family, I felt a deep-seated sense of loneliness. In 2009, aged 31 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and spent the following 6 years in and out of psychiatric hospitals with bouts of mania and psychosis.
He was the object of my desire and adoration at times
During this decade there was one man, a radio DJ (who I will call Jack), who became many things to me. He was the object of my desire and adoration at times, extending to an obsession during manic times, and, at other more stable times, an old friend, an inspiration and an idol, whom I instinctively trusted completely. He became my virtual confidant; I would email/message him about my life and my emotions and from time to time he’d send me messages of support and encouragement. Jack was never anything other than kind, respectful and professional. I have met him only a handful of times but he has been a constant presence in my life on account of his voice beaming out of the radio into my bedroom/living room/hospital bedroom on a daily basis.
I’d spend literally weeks under the duvet feeling unable to communicate with friends and family, I’d confide in him that I was struggling
During serious depressions when I’d spend literally weeks under the duvet feeling unable to communicate with friends and family, I’d confide in him that I was struggling and his brief but kind messages helped me take small steps to keep going. However my attachment to him at times was such that on several occasions, shortly before I was due to see him at a public gig or festival, I would get over-excited, lose sleep and end up in a manic phase. During the height of mania, my obsession for him drove me to do reckless things. For example, in 2011 I escaped from hospital (on his birthday) and jumped off Waterloo bridge (This was not a suicide attempt but an act that occurred while I was suffering from euphoric psychosis).
Perhaps the start of my road to recovery was my 2015 admission to The Priory (which was funded by the NHS on account of there being no available beds in the local NHS hospitals). My stay at The Priory, as you might expect, was a far less traumatizing experience than being on an NHS psychiatric ward.
I have learned to moderate my intake of all things that are appealing and therefore generally bad for your health. This included, during some periods, limiting the time I spent listening to the radio.
It has not been a totally smooth ride since leaving The Priory, but a few critical elements were put in place there which have aided my recovery and helped establish a stable mood which has been an essential component in rebuilding my life following many years of chaos.
I believe that accepting that I’d have to take meds long-term and finding the ones that worked for me was pivotal. From there I was able to maintain a more stable mood and with support from my friends, family and my local community mental health team, I began to re-build my life. I’m fairly sensible about diet, exercise, caffeine and alcohol and haven’t touched cannabis in six years. I have learned to moderate my intake of all things that are appealing and therefore generally bad for your health. This included, during some periods, limiting the time I spent listening to the radio.
A New Chapter
In June 2017 I went to see Jack do a gig. I took an old friend along and we both had a great time. I didn’t feel over-excited or nervous but it was a thrill to see him both on stage and afterwards where we had a brief but lovely chat and a hug. It was like seeing an old friend and I felt happy knowing that we were both in relationships that seemed to be going well.
Jack’s show now acts purely as entertainment and as a form of company. I no longer hang on his every word, often simply having him on in the background while I get on with daily life. As my texts/emails to the show are still occasionally read out on air, I feel part of something; ‘Jack’s listeners’ club’.
The thought of him no longer makes me lose my mind but simply makes me smile. I feel like I have finally closed a chapter and that a new happier chapter awaits me.