Understanding I’m Not Alone

Author: Ashley Sievewright

This years theme of Bipolar Together for World Bipolar Day reminds me of when i was first inspired to talk about my mental health after watching the television documentary Stephen Fry – The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive back in 2006.

I admired how brave it was for Stephen Fry, other celebrities and members of the public to publicly speak out about their experiences of living with a mental illness in order to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

The documentary had a huge impact on me because like those featured in the programme I could relate to experiencing manic and depressive episodes. 

The documentary encouraged me to be open with my GP about my struggle with my mood swings and almost 10 years after watching the documentary, I was diagnosed with bipolar in 2015.

A few months after my diagnosis, I joined the Bipolar Aberdeen Mutual Support group. I had never met anyone else with bipolar before and the support and understanding from all the members was overwhelming and I realized I was not alone in my diagnosis.

The group helped me accept my diagnosis and come to terms that i will have bipolar for the rest of my life. I learned how others managed their condition, what the benefits were from taking medication and how undergoing therapy can help to control and stabilize my mood. As well as how to beat the stigma of having a mental illness. 

I found it benefited to have a positive relationship with my psychiatrist and mental health team. I understood the importance of this when an episode led me to being an inpatient in a psychiatrist hospital for over a year. I couldn’t have gotten through hospitalization without support from the professionals, friends and family.

I can honestly say I owe a lot of gratitude to others for speaking out as this gave me the courage to admit I had a problem, and now I try to live a life managing my bipolar. 

By sharing my story, I hope I can inspire others to get the help they need. 

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