For Vairi mental illness has been the sole most isolating experience of her life. By far one of the most difficult emotions her bipolar disorder brings to the surface is loneliness as she details in this blog.

I know I am not alone in feeling alone in a busy room or having my heart sink when a family member or friend offers support, but you can see the look of pity or confusion.

I have been lucky to have people around me who are supportive but an ongoing trigger and theme in my mental wellness and recovery journey is the feeling of being misunderstood, this has been the main cause of my feelings of loneliness, the realisation that most people really can’t understand just how the illness can be all encompassing and debilitating.

Bipolar disorder is still very misunderstood and whilst my people can research to  educate themselves around how it manifests in people or what symptoms may be problematic for those of us who live with the condition it will never really give enough insight in to what really goes on in our head.

That's where Peer Support comes in.

I will never forget the first conversation I had with another person with bipolar after my diagnosis, hearing him talk about his experience was life changing for me and was the first step in accepting that this was an illness and not a personality flaw. I remember leaving the support group and crying outside the office because finally I felt someone else knew how this felt and I can't find the words to describe the relief I experienced.

From that point I realised the importance of finding others with the condition and sharing our experience. I googled bipolar support groups and that is where I first learned of Bipolar UK and I joined their eCommunity.

Logging in to see thousands of members and conversation topics to relate to made me realise just how many others lived with this condition and reading through the content made me feel seen. After years of feeling misunderstood, I could now be honest in a safe space, being able to share in confidence really gave me the freedom to explore conversations that at the time I didn’t have the confidence to vocalise.

I have since used the eCommunity to discuss my worries and concerns and also to offer support to others who may be struggling to navigate life with Bipolar disorder and I would recommend anyone who either has or is supporting someone with the disorder to take time to check out the forum and build relationships with others.

The friends I have made along my recovery journey have helped me through my darkest days and have had the necessary insight to help me calm myself when I am chasing highs.

Now more than ever we are isolated and 2020 and brought many challenges including physical isolation, this is hard for everyone and for many, especially those with a mental health diagnosis this could be extremely dangerous.

We are indoors now more than ever and with winter here I know myself and many others are feeling very cut off from the world, spaces like the eCommunity could be the lifeline we need to  keep us connected not only to the outside world but also to people who can understand us and I can testify first-hand the powerful impact this continues to have on my recovery journey.

If you haven’t yet tried to connect with others with the condition I’d highly recommend creating an account, so you can talk with the comfort of knowing your identity is protected.