James' story is one of survival but for some might be triggering as it contains themes of suicidal ideation. If you, a family member or anyone you know are affected by any of the themes raised please visit our resources page.

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.