I'm Guy, a forty-something living in Medway and working as a mental health advocate in East Kent. I have bipolar, but that doesn't define me, but informs I lot about who I am and what I do. Hope you like my blog.
My name’s Guy and I have blue eyes and bipolar. Upon meeting me for the first time, the thing you’ll probably first notice are my blue eyes; however, in the past, when manic, you may have noticed me raving on about going to Rome with Kate Moss; or, when depressed, me sat, smoking myself to death (oh that it were so easy!), sunken and withdrawn. I am much better now, compared to a period between 1998-2004 when my mood cycled rapidly and which culminated in being detained under section.
I’m often asked when was I first ‘aware’ that I was bipolar. It’s difficult to say; erosion of years and a memory affected by psychiatric medication has left my recall less than total. I can say that early years until university were incident-free. On starting university and through my three years there and onto law school, I was aware of my mood dipping occasionally and an increased social anxiety, though I couldn’t have described it in those terms. But it didn’t last and I managed to right myself and move onwards without reflection. This continued while living and working in London, yet I couldn’t find anything stronger to describe certain bouts than as ‘unhappy’. I operated within socially acceptable tramlines of behaviour and had no reason to regard my mood – at no time would I use the term ‘mental health’ – as outlying.
I left London and went to teach English in Rome. I had amazing times, but in 1998 after the breakdown of a relationship I found myself in bed, unable to function and tearfully booking a flight back to the UK. This was my entry into the mental health system. I visited my GP, took the prescription, was referred to a counsellor, had ten sessions and considered myself ‘cured’! This established a pattern that was to continue for the next six years. Recovery, relapse with each intensifying and my exhibiting traits that were textbook bipolar, but without being able to name them. Forward wind to 2004 and I was in London and in a full blown (hypo-)manic episode which ended upon me presenting at the A&E at University College Hospital, being assessed and admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital under section 2 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
I wasn’t to know it at the time, but this was the beginning of my journey into a sustained recovery, a journey which continues until today and which will continue onwards. I am now stable, comply with my medication, work part-time and have fantastic support of family and friends. I still sweat the small stuff, have an unquiet mind, but the chaotic fluctuation is gone. I have no reason to suppose that I will relapse, but it is a risk. I practice mindfulness to enhance control over my mental health and avoid relapse triggers. I am as content now as I have ever been. If you meet me then, it’ll be the blue eyes you notice, but the bipolar will be there. Be calmed.
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