Speak Up Getting your bipolar diagnosis is just the start Conor shares his story about being courageous enough to ask for help and his belief that it’s ok to be open about your condition. I received my diagnosis in August 2019 at 19 years old. I had a happy childhood living with my mum, dad, younger brother and two dogs in Sheffield. I had lots of friends and did well in school. In hindsight, it is clear that I had early symptoms of hypomania from a young age. Besides living with anxiety, as I got older, I rarely slept and had a constant need to be preoccupied, simultaneously working two part-time jobs and participating in multiple volunteering roles from the age of 14. At 2 years old my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, which we believe to have been a major trigger. Though only a toddler, being well-sheltered from the situation by my parents, I knew something was wrong and the stress must have had an impact on my development. My condition was contributed further genetically by my dad, who was only diagnosed last year with cyclothymia. After completing my A-Levels I started my English degree in Nottingham in September 2018, believing I would experience the best three years of my life. Unfortunately, this was not the case. My mental health declined drastically due to a number of factors ranging from the stress of worrying about family to the lifestyle I now had, where I was drinking frequently every day. The accumulation of stress caused me to snap and during the Christmas period of 2018 it all became too much. I ended up in a severe mixed-state condition, falling into a deep depression where I took to even heavier drinking. I knew I wasn’t very well but was too afraid to admit it initially due to suffering with extreme paranoia and delusional thinking as well. This exacerbated my health to the point I was having very aggressive, erratic outbursts towards those close to me, causing me to spiral further into a sense of despair and guilt. Fortunately, in May 2019, I found the courage to speak up about how I was feeling, recognising that I needed help. With a great support network of friends and family, I was able to start my road to recovery and encourage my dad to start his own. I have now moved back home, completing my university studies in Sheffield. However bad life may feel, you are strong enough and you have access to a community to enable you to get through it and things will get better. It’s ok to ask for help. Bipolar UK’s eCommunity is the destination to head to if any of the issues mentioned affect you. Whether directly or as a carer looking after someone living with the condition you can discuss issues of mutual interest with likeminded individuals. Signing up is easy and free, why not join today.