I have an illness that catapults me through a full spectrum of moods and feelings. For me, and for over 1m people in the UK
it’s called bipolar disorder. Sometimes I am dying inside from the effort of living. Sometimes I fly with my own self importance when I’ve “got this”. I try to avoid the opposing ends of the spectrum and live between smaller extremes somewhere through the middle of it all. There are windows of balance when it can be worth all the struggle. I thought I had severe depressive episodes to quote the diagnosis. I thought the episodes could go away forever. The label is different now and it will be with me for life. It’s so hard to accept that I might have periods of remission but not recovery.


I want to write about what I do to try and keep as well as I can. I won’t include a ‘nice warm bath’ or a ‘hot drink’ because although I know these work for some people, I have heard them too many times and they are just platitudes now. These are the things that I do to keep as well as I can for as long as I can. Medication plays a huge part in my life. I have to take it at the right time regularly without
exception to get the right amount of sleep and no meds hangover the next morning. I have to accept there are long term side effects that come with that medication.


One of those long term effects is pushing up blood glucose to the point of drug induced diabetes. Trying to avoid this means keeping my weight down which is hard work when another side effect is weight gain. I eat as well as I can but on a benefits budget it’s not easy.
I have entrusted my credit card and ‘as and when needed’ medication to a trusted relative. There have been times when I desperately wanted those back so I could use either to run away.


I have close family, a very supportive GP and good friends around me. Despite all these I turn to the Samaritans if needs be. I do my best to avoid NHS mental health services during times when I am feeling ok. At those times I just want to get on with living my life.
The last thing to talk about here is to include what I get out of volunteering. I make it a rule that I only take on things that I could take a break from without feeling guilty if I’m unwell. I’m always tempted to commit to too much and then I regret it. Being able to volunteer makes me feel good.


When things are out of balance, especially when I’m in the depths, I try to remember the best I can feel and reassure myself that life can be like that again. The roller coaster can slow down but yes, it is hard work.

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Together, we can support the person behind the diagnosis of bipolar.