In 1994, when I was 18 and leaving home, I developed bipolar symptoms. Over the next ten years I experienced harrowing suicidal depressive states and the occasional euphoric mania. I was severely depressed most of the time and had no quality of life. By the time I was 28 I had a Masters degree but no job, no friends and no future. I turned to street drugs and became psychotic. I got myself into a huge amount of trouble as I had no concept of reality and was gullible, vulnerable and easily exploited by strangers who did not have my best interests at heart.

In October 2004 I attempted suicide. I jumped out of a second floor window and landed on my head. Miraculously, thanks to some brilliant surgeons at the Royal Free Hospital, I survived and I retained mental capacity. Two years later I had plastic surgery so I looked normal again. That was when I started to rebuild my life.

In 2007 I started volunteering at Bipolar UK. It was wonderful to meet sympathetic people with the same diagnosis. I began to learn new skills and gain confidence. By 2009, I had progressed far enough to start a paid job, and joined a pool of people answering the phone. I supported anyone affected by bipolar who contacted the charity. I took to this like a fish to water. I loved doing it and knew I was good at it. It was amazing to be given the opportunity to provide the kind of support that was so important in the improvement of my own mental health.

In 2015 I gave up my primary role in finance to work on the new support line team full-time. Now I co-ordinate the telephone and email support service that we provide. I recruit, train and provide ongoing support to volunteers and, from October, interns who are looking to learn and potentially build a career in peer support. Peer support is the model we have adopted at Bipolar UK to enable people to get support, guidance and advice from those who have lived through similar experiences. It is internationally renowned as a very effective tool in helping recovery in people with severe and enduring mental illness.

We would like to keep doing this, but Bipolar UK receives no statutory funding. We rely on trusts and foundations, and above all individuals like yourselves to keep going. Please support Bipolar UK - it has completely transformed my life.

Your donation will help provide a range of services offering the support people need, when they need it. You can make sure there's someone at the end of the phone to listen, a 24-hour peer forum and more.