Battling Mental Health can be one of the scariest things for any individual to go through, I had the chance to talk to a blogger called Talk and Cheese who agreed to share her journey with us and show how things can change.
Mental Health is still a big issue and we are seeming to see it everywhere at the moment that sadly people are turning to the wrong things without opening up and letting people know that they are suffering so they can get the help they need and deserve as human beings.
I asked Talk and Cheese a few questions about her life and her battle with Mental Health and how it affected her professional and personal lifestyle.
So please take some time to read the story from this brave individual.
Please can you tell us a little about yourself
I’m 43 years old and live with bipolar 2.
I was a TV presenter for over twenty years, presenting mainly news and football. I retired last May so that I can look after the two boys in my life, namely my precious 5-year-old son, MK, and my wonderful, supportive and understanding boyfriend, who I refer to in my blogs as Handsome Doc. He’s ok with that title as you can probably imagine!
I always knew I had some form of mental illness. Right from when I was a little girl. My brain was in turmoil for much of the time.
I swung from being horribly flat and lost, to being deliriously happy and uncontrollably high.
I was far more anxious than a little girl should be, and convinced myself that my parents regretted having me, and even that I was adopted. I’m not, and they didn’t.
When I was high, everyone just put it down to the fact that I had a big personality (although the true me was actually really shy and insecure), but on reflection, we all now recognise that there was more to it than that.
How did you go about getting help and did they diagnose you with ease?
At the age of 19 I had a complete breakdown, so went to see my GP. She was very nice, and I believe tried her best given the information that was available about mental health back then, but in fact, the big box of Prozac and suggestion that I take up a sport really didn’t cut it.
I battled on with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety for years, but at the age of 29, was referred to a private mental hospital where I remained for six weeks. Not only did it drain my parents of all their savings (I carry enormous guilt over that), but it actually had limited impact on mental well-being.
Again, I was being treated for depression and anxiety. I knew this wasn’t right, but believed that there was nothing more I, or they, could do.
In 2007 I moved to London having been invited to present a fairly high-profile sports programme, and things deteriorated fast at that point.
I had still been on antidepressants on and off over the years, and had received hours and hours of therapy, but the depressive episodes were lasting for longer, and I was out of control with what I now know to have been hypomania. I made bad decisions with men and I drunk to excess, to the point where my therapist at the time advised me to go to AA. I did go a few times but was in such denial that I stopped turning up for meetings, and carried on drinking.
I’m afraid to say, I was also doing coke.
It was around this time that I was once again referred to the private mental hospital, this time in London. I was referred due to my mood, not for my alcohol or drug abuse.
It was only at that point, aged 35, that I received an accurate diagnosis of bipolar 2.
Incredibly, stats show that on average it takes ten and a half years to receive a correct diagnosis of bipolar in the UK, and that before that point, sufferers will receive an average of three and a half misdiagnosis. A pretty sad state of affairs, considering how devastating an illness it is to live with, particularly when it goes untreated.
I’m now on a fairly hefty combination of drugs (40mg Citalopram, 250mg Lamotrogine and 5mg Aripriprazole), some of which have some horrible side effects.
I don’t to be honest. I barely sit down, I have the concentration of a nat, and my mind is always thinking. Actually, I now use blogging as a means of winding down and letting go, but I guess that’s still a form of work, so I’m not sure if that counts!
Kind, a huge heart, loyal, brave, funny, beautiful, sensitive, a great mummy and strong. When they say strong, they refer to the way in which I battle with bipolar in order to try to lead a meaningful life, and to be the best mummy I can be.
I tend to suffer more from depression than hypomania, but for some reason or another, the latter has taken the lead over the past few months. I still feel it’s manageable and have no plans to seek professional help at the moment. My meds and past experiences see me through for now. There’s no denying it’s a tough fight to win though, and that the gremlin does his best to manipulate me. I’ve got a 100% success rate of beating him in the end though, and I intend to keep that up.
No I’m not.
Finally please can you tell me something you like about yourself