Mental illness is still met with stigma and fear My name is Clair. I am 41, I am married and have two teenage daughters. I love animals, walking my dog along Rimrose valley, crafting, playing the flute and going to the theatre to see musicals. I also have bipolar. When I had my two daughters it was thought that I had post-natal depression, but after a few appointments with the Psychiatrist he thought it was more than just PND, because of the stigma around mental illness I was scared and discharged myself. As my daughters got bigger I was really struggling with depression and was referred to my Community Mental Health Team where I was quickly diagnosed with bipolar type 2. Looking back I could see highs and lows that I had experienced for many years. I have continued to struggle with bipolar and my moods. Finding the right medication combination has been challenging and I have often felt like a science experiment. This is not the case with everyone and when the right combination is found bipolar can be controlled with medication. I still have highs and lows. I love the highs! I feel great, lots of energy, I have been known to paint the fence at 3am, I feel very happy, but I am irritable at times and I act without thinking, often going on big spending sprees. As I come down from the high, parcels often start to arrive that I have ordered, that a lot of the time I don't even want and I know the low will probably come. I hate the lows. I struggle to find motivation for anything: getting out of bed; cooking; cleaning; eating; pursuing hobbies. Mental illness is still met with stigma and fear, although things are very slowly improving. I have experienced seeing fear in people's eyes if I disclose I have bipolar. I have also experienced discrimination. People sometimes think that people with a mental illness are lazy or need to sort themselves out. What people do not see is how hard people with a mental illness fight to stay alive and do very basic things. I want to raise awareness of bipolar, to help society see that I am not dangerous, I am not stupid and I still have something to offer. 30th March was World Bipolar day. I wanted to do something to raise money for Bipolar UK so I am asked for sponsors as I have my hair shaved on the 30th. Bipolar UK support people with bipolar and provide valuable information for them and their family and friends as well as raising awareness. I hope that by raising money, I will help to end stigma and help to support people like me who are living with bipolar.