Ashley Sievewright

Something I am proud of:

Something I am proud of is overcoming stigma. A few years after being diagnosed an episode led me to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I expected my hospitalisation to represent something close to the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Despite modernisation and hospitals no longer called lunatic asylums there is still a fear about entering psychiatric hospitals. I struggled immensely with people knowing I was locked up for being mentally unwell and I felt there would be no issue of stigma if I was in a general hospital being treated for my physical health. I soon learned receiving treatment as an inpatient was nothing to be ashamed of and that hospitalisation could happen to anyone. Many patients opened up about how their time in hospital helped them stabilise their bipolar. They inspired me to raise more awareness to reduce the stigma surrounding hospitalisation.


Advice for those newly diagnosed:

Try and accept your diagnosis. It can lead to receiving treatment to manage your manic and depressive episodes. For me, it led to medication therapy, a psychiatrist, mental health team and a local support group. Try to be honest about your mood swings as this will allow you to receive the correct treatment for you. Identifying triggers and monitoring changes in mood is a positive technique to identify when an episode is coming on, this can reduce the severity of an episode. Reach out if you are struggling, this can allow you to access help more quickly and can prevent relapse.
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