Gwen talks about her journey with bipolar and what she has found on the way to help. As well how it has led her to career in the mental health sector.
Since I was about 18, I’ve suffered with mental health problems. I went to see the doctor and was diagnosed with depression but sometimes I’d feel a bit ‘high’. My friends and family didn’t really know much about mental health or illness so when I‘d go a little wild they’d just think
"That’s Gwen just doing a Gwen"
And then when I was about 25 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Around the same time, someone close to me died by suicide and that caused me even more mental distress. I was having rapid cycling through emotions and had mixed bipolar episodes and I was on so many tablets. At the time I was also self-harming.
"So I decided – because I was so ill and didn’t really understand it – that I would research into mental health and illness myself to try to make sense out of it all."
Through researching, I discovered how to manage my illness that I will I have for the rest of my life. And what I discovered helped were things like eating healthily – no one ever wants to hear this – but, eating healthily, exercise, practicing mindfulness and meditation. And I can remember the first time I heard that I thought that sounds a little hippy’
"But it really works and it helps if my mind is racing or I’m feeling stressed in work, or just in life in general."
I used to be a secondary school teacher but when I was ill, around 2013, I had to stop teaching. I couldn’t continue as I was. But by that point, as I had been researching for 2 years, I applied for a job working in mental health and now I have the honour of working in the mental health sector and I find that helps me, too, with my condition.
Because...I can help other people now.
Because of the research, I did...
Because I know what it’s like to feel mentally unwell and what it feels like to have people not understand.
It’s a privilege to be able to educate and train people so that they understand.
If they are suffering themselves, or it’s someone they know, I can help inform them and help get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health problems and that’s very important to me.
So that’s my story and hopefully it will be of help to somebody. It’s just very important, I think, to get rid of the stigma. Everyone suffers from the flu or something at some point in their lives. Everyone at some point will suffer from some type of loss or a heartache.
It’s vital to take care of our mental health and I feel very fortunate to be able to help others and I feel very lucky that I have that understanding now.
So: research, eat healthily, try some exercise, and perhaps try some Meditation. And maybe that will help you, too.
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