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Learning to live with bipolar

Monday, 06 January 2020 Rosie

Rosie blogs about how she is now using her experience to help others.

Last September a huge change in my life pushed me into having a manic episode that lasted nine weeks. I was hospitalised in Ealing after being found diving into a baggage drop off at Stanstead airport, having hallucinated all day and thinking I was in a dream.

I felt on a high and was overeating. At one point I became so unwell I was put into solitary confinement for three days - my parents weren’t allowed to visit and the only thing in the room was a mattress. Food was slid into me and there weren’t any windows.

"Even during the hours I was awake I was exhausted and after a month or so I became depressed."

When medication started to work I experienced the depressive side of bipolar. Over Christmas my body caught up on the sleep I had missed out on for two months - falling asleep at 9pm and waking up at 12 noon. Even during the hours I was awake I was exhausted and after a month or so I became depressed. March/April have been my hardest months - feeling so suicidal I couldn’t even maintain my personal hygiene, brushing my teeth felt like an effort and all my medication was given to me on a daily basis as I didn’t feel responsible enough to have the whole packet. I went to bed at 6:30pm and my days consisted of two home visits a day from the NHS Crisis team.

Eventually in May I started to see little flashes of light from mood stabilisers. Quatiapine (an antipsychotic) and lithium (a mood stabiliser) have ended up being my combination. I also made the decision to take a few months off from anything, just to focus on maintaining good health.

"If anyone out there is experiencing depression- you can feel better.I couldn’t imagine it when I was so low, I had lost all hope."

I wanted to write a post to say that if anyone out there is experiencing depression- you can feel better. I couldn’t imagine it when I was so low, I had lost all hope and the only thing keeping me going was googling bipolar inspiration stories/quotes and looking up fat cat pictures to make me laugh. Everyone’s mental health is unique, but speaking about it does wonders. The crisis team got me out of the hugest hole through communication, and I would recommend this to anyone currently suffering. I now just do CBT once every two weeks.

I’m back to feeling normal, only having the same highs and lows as most other people. I’ve felt like this for four months now so am obviously on the right combination of meds for me. The year before this all happened I was misdiagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. My medication now has also stopped these symptoms.

Friends and family support was crucial to me — and were the first people to recognise my recovery. I understand in my lifetime I may have another episode, but am currently enjoying not focusing on that prospect but instead channelling my energy into breaking stigmas and raising awareness where I can. I have since set up the page ‘Viva Fever’ on Instagram, with a page also on my website devoted to interviewing other people on their experiences with mental health.

"When I was anxious or depressed, doing something as little as a walk gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment."

My page is a safe space for anyone experiencing issues – and a great platform on which to read other stories and feel normal. I have worked with Mind in the past organising talks at Shoreditch House, and hope to now host my own and create a London community for anyone to dip in and out of if they find the page helpful. I just held my first ever Viva Fever event – an hour-long Sunday stroll along the canal, coffee to finish! When I was anxious or depressed, doing something as little as a walk gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment, and I hope followers will see the potential in these opportunities I am creating.

I called the page Viva Fever. My middle name is Viva, which also means live. It’s a silly name as I don’t want the organisation to ever become too serious. Even at my lowest I’d be able to detatch from the situation quite regularly and laugh at the fact my mind was strong enough to make me scared to go to Tesco. The mind can put you in the most ridiculous scenarios, and we can’t let it win. Tescos should not be scary!


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