Bipolar UK ambassador Natasha Rea explains how she brought her ‘Bipolar Brenda’ memoir to life

Watch Bipolar Brenda here

I've taken my one-woman stage play to Manchester, Liverpool, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and London. And now you can watch the recording online! 

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Natasha, one of the ambassadors at Bipolar UK. I’m a single mum, creative and one of them thespians.

I was that girl who did the Instagram lives every week during lockdown and I talk a lot. I also launched the #SpeakOutLikeBrenda campaign, which saw a lot of stars from the telly and film reading monologues from my book. But then I decided to perform my own monologue, a 40-page one-woman show… 

My stage play

‘A Night with Me, Myself Bipolar Brenda’ is a stage play inspired by my memoir, that some of you may have heard of, may have read and hopefully if you did, it helped you to turn the madness into magic. The truth is I never meant to write a book and guess what? I never would’ve believed I’d be sat here now telling you about a one-woman show, that I’ve written, produced and starred in.

The show debuted in my hometown of Manchester at The Hope Mill Theatre. It sold out to standing ovation audiences. I back doored it the first night when they all stood up, literally ran out the back door. Then I took it to Liverpool, The Edinburgh Fringe and finally to London.

Living with bipolar can be tough

I’ve struggled since I was 14 with this illness and if I can be honest, it got a lot worse for me the older I got. And if I’m really honest, every day I still fight to get out of bed. The book allowed me to get the chaotic thoughts and intense emotions in my heart out of my head.

If one person picked it up and it helped them that would have been enough for me. It’s helped hundreds of people from a lot further than Manchester. I’ve made friends with people in Brazil, Canada and all over, just from them reading my book. A book I didn’t ever intend to write.

A tough and joyful experience

Adapting the memoir to stage was one of the hardest but most joyful experiences of my life and it continues. And finally, I’m not wanting it to end. I want to live more than the voice that tells me I’d be better off not here.

I suppose you could say that creativity has been a massive help to me. A help in becoming better with living with Bipolar Brenda. I was only doing two nights of the show, but some stories are meant to go further.

Positive reviews

"Make sure you go and see this brilliant one-woman show." Jason Manford

“A piece of theatre with a serious mission to help others who are facing similar chaos is rarely forthcoming. This show needs to be seen. It deserves to succeed.” Cheshire Life

“Natasha creates an immediacy and a raw truth of what it’s like to be bipolar, but also a living, breathing vibrant human being. Go and see her whenever and wherever you get the chance!” Neurodiverse Reviews

“I fought back tears alongside the rest of the audience. This show was an excellent example of how theatre can be used to raise awareness for Mental Health It was emotional, realistic, and informative. Leaving the show, I turned to my friend (who has BPD) and felt like I understood her experience more.” Northwest End Reviews 

Encouraging understanding about bipolar

It's no secret that my son has saved my life. He is the backbone to this story. There would be no story, no fight in me to become better if it wasn’t for my son. And standing on the stage telling my story got such a reaction. People left with more understanding and awareness about bipolar. They related, they laughed, and they sobbed. But most of all they felt seen, they felt heard, and they walked out shining their light.

My show is about one woman, but I stood on that stage for anyone who lives with bipolar. For those who are struggling with symptoms. For those who are still waiting for a diagnosis. But obviously from my personal struggle, I stand for the single mums like me that question themselves as parents daily.

I don’t sugar-coat it. If you read the book, you will know I don’t hold back. It is my experiences, it’s my pain, my joy, failure, and success. It’s my life, and that life at times I’ve almost lost.

Harnessing creativity

I had to use my creativity to accept this part of me. Bipolar Brenda, Anxiety Annie, Depressed Debbie and OCD Doris. You know someone’s story, regardless of how bumpy the ride may be, it could be someone else’s survival guide. You find your purpose in life though some of the hardest times.

What do you do when you’re at rock bottom? What do you do with this daily madness and this darkness that follows you? Well, I turned it into magic and I’m shining my light through the dark. And I hope that this show continues to help every person that watches it do the same.

Let’s get bipolar talked about, understood and accepted as the condition that my son calls my superpower.

Get in touch

Twitter @natasharea

Insta - @memyselfandbipolarbrenda / @littletashaluci 

Last updated: 16 April 2024