An honest blog sharing the ups and downs of my personal mental health journey

Friday, 24 July 2020

If I Do Say So Myself, This Is Worth Reading.

The Kanye West situation has been extremely triggering for me. I think it's fairly obvious I was going to write something about it, so in the words of Kenan & Kel, "aaahhh, here it goes".

Before it's potentially mentioned, this is nothing to do with his politics. I literally do not give a shit about his politics. This post is not about that. If you have a political opinion I'd prefer you write it on someone else's, maybe someone that's actually talking about politics.

This is purely about mental health, the depiction of his mental health in the media and the struggle of actually living with bipolar disorder, written by someone that (have I mentioned?!) actually has it.

I think this gives me a fairly good right to speak about the subject for the millionth time.

A lot of people are either completely ignoring his illness or treating him as an absolute 'psychopath' because of some of his actions. Or somehow even both. 

I get it, you don't understand it. So it's easy to judge and say horrible things about people when you've never been through it, have never known anyone with it or just aren't bothered about it whatsoever. 

Well, chances are, within all of our lifetimes you will either have it and be misdiagnosed, have it and are eventually diagnosed, have it and never realise, have a friend that has it or has a family member that has it. 

Whether or not the person experiencing this struggle actually talks about it is literally because of the way they'll be perceived, and the reason they're scared is because you're the ones making them feel that way - whether you know it or not. 

"1 in every 100 people will be diagnosed with it at some point in their life. Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, although it often develops between the ages of 15 and 19 and rarely develops after 40".

I first experienced severe depression at 11 years old. I was diagnosed at 26. I'm shit at maths but even I just worked out that means it took 15 whole years for me to get a diagnosis for something I've struggled with since childhood.

I'm really sick of trying to educate ignorant people on such a serious illness. 

It's a catch 22 - all I want to do is speak about it and educate people so that one day, hopefully, maybe, a lot more of the world also feel confident and comfortable enough to speak about it and don't have to hide in fear, lose friends, feel completely alone, feel completely helpless or end up in hospital. All of which have happened to me.

However, if I keep banging on about it people will start to switch off and stop caring because it's all I ever seem to speak about, right? But if I don't speak about it, other people may do the same, so how are people going to understand? If other people stop speaking, then I stop speaking, then more people stop speaking - then it's back to the very beginning. 

Also, for those that choose to ignore people with this illness - most of all end friendships and neglect people because of it (because it's so called 'easier' to do that) - you're actually almost worse than the people holding these strongly negative opinions of it. Because by staying silent and not trying you're a huge part of the problem. 

"Bipolar is one of the UK’s most common long-term conditions with almost as many people living with bipolar as cancer, it is more than twice as common as dementia, epilepsy, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, and learning disabilities".

If Kanye West had cancer rather than bipolar I think we would be in a veeeeeeerrrryyy different situation, wouldn't we?

"Bipolar increases an individual’s risk of suicide by up to 20 times".

If people aren't surrounded with the correct help and support they're far more likely to commit suicide. So as human beings, friends and family, we actually have the ability to potentially help people out of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Why wouldn't we want to do that?! If you are continuing to stigmitise, ignore and misunderstand mental illness you're practically contributing to people wanting to die - that's uncomfortable to hear, isn't it?

"90% of people with bipolar had told their employer about their condition but 24% of them regretted making that decision".

I told my last employer on the day I started that I had been diagnosed with bipolar and he asked what it was and what it means because he'd never been faced with that situation before. He/the rest of my team never bothered to find out or even Google it to get a better idea. They changed my job role completely and unexpectedly after I had a week off because I was feeling down, which I was completely open and honest about (which takes a bloody lot). They changed my job. People are off with flu for a week. Do they get their jobs changed when returning to work? Nope. Did they change my job because I have bipolar and they discriminated against me? Yup. 

No wonder people aren't honest about taking a day off for the sake of your mental wellbeing.

"3 million people in the UK have bipolar disorder".

As mentioned, very high chances are that's someone you know and someone that will never speak about it the way I try to.

There are 3 types of bipolar disorder - Bipolar I, Bipolar II and Cyclothymia. 

Bipolar I (Kanye West) mood scale ranges from: 
  • Mania with Psychosis
  • Mania
  • Hypomania
  • Elation
  • Balanced Mood
  • Dysthymia (persistent depression) 
  • Mild Depression 
  • Moderate Depression 
  • Severe Depression 
  • Severe Depression with Psychosis. 

That's 11 moods. ELEVEN. How do you reckon you'd feel suffering from potentially 11 moods throughout not only the span of your lifetime but potentially in the space of 1 or 2 years, on repeat. Pretty fucking knackered, fed up, livid and confused, I'd imagine. 

For any of those interested, I am diagnosed with Bipolar II. This means I have moods spanning from:
  • Hypomania
  • Elation
  • Balanced Mood
  • Dysthymia (persistent depression) 
  • Mild Depression
  • Moderate Depression 
  • Severe Depression
(So yes, I can still be 'normal' and in a balanced mood for long periods of time regardless of this. An interesting and what should be a fairly obvious fact is we're not just either high as shit or low as fuck and that's the end of it).

These moods can vary from person to person and from different time scales. I typically have months of depression, followed directly by elation and/or hypomania which can last anything from a few weeks to a few months. I also suffer from mixed episodes of both elated mood and depression. So yeah, that sounds pretty weird and shitty doesn't it?

Two of the main bipolar triggers are PTSD and stress. If I have high stress levels I can spiral extremely quickly, which then results in a hypomanic episode directly afterwards.

Cyclothymia ranges from Hypomania - Dysthymia and cycles far more quickly but at a lower frequency than Bipolar I and Bipolar II. 

These symptoms/descriptions of elated and manic/hypomanic moods on the Bipolar UK website may help understanding too:

Mania - total loss of judgement, exorbitant spending, religious delusions and hallucinations, lost touch with reality, incoherent, no sleep, paranoid and vindictive, reckless behaviour - again, Kanye West.

Hypomania - inflated self-esteem, rapid thoughts and speech, counterproductive simultaneous tasks. Very productive, everything to excess, charming (lol) and talkative (bigger lol) - me.

If people are interested to know a few more famous people ala Kanye West that have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder:
  • Carrie Fisher 
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • David Harbour
  • Demi Lovato 
  • Stephen Fry
  • Frank Sinatra 
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Mariah Carey 
  • Russell Brand
  • Sting
  • Tom Fletcher 
  • Mel Gibson
  • Kurt Cobain
  • Sinead O'Connor
  • Lily Allen
  • Chris Brown
  • Britney Spears
  • Sia
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Pete Wentz
  • Dave Chappelle
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • David Walliams 
  • Ruby Wax
  • Brian Wilson 
  • Nina Simone
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Winston Churchill 
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Sylvia Plath
...the list goes ooooooon and on and on.

I really hope this helps raise some awareness, some understanding and importantly that people start taking this illness more seriously. 

I will continue to bang on about this until something is done. I will continue to speak about this to help other people. I will continue to educate myself about this not only for myself but for the millions of other people in the world that have it and will never feel comfortable talking about it. 

I don't understand why you aren't doing the same.


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig