Why I’m crowdfunding my mental health book & what happens when you pledge

As many of you will know by now, by the amount of times I have (very excitedly) tweeted about it, I have written a whole entire book on my life with mental illness.

It documents my life with OCD, health anxiety, BPD and bipolar disorder. It also talks about things that come with these things – like suicidal and intrusive thoughts, self harm, panic attacks, mania and depression, mood swings, toxic relationships, obsessions and compulsions and more.

I started writing it shortly after a nervous breakdown. It saved me and I think it has what it takes to save other people, too.

It talks about my darkest times. Why I ended up being under the Crisis team, my nervous breakdown, wanting to end my life and how OCD led me to washing my hands sixty times a day and getting down on my hands and knees in the road in the dark to search for something that wasn’t there.

GirlUnwiredCream (1)

But alongside all of this, I also talk about how to survive with mental illness. And how I’m still surviving. That’s another important aspect of the book. It’s not a how-to-guide or a cure. It’s about going THROUGH mental illness. Because I think it’s much more relatable, because living with mental illness is about managing and surviving. There’s always going to be bad days but it’s about living for the good days, too.

Though it’s not a guide, there is some guide-y stuff in there. Like how to seek help for your mental health and make sure you get it. How to go to A&E for your mental health. How to open up to family and friends. Whether medication is right for you or not. How to get through the bad days. There are also lists: lists on good self-care tips, lists on dealing with intrusive and suicidal thoughts, and lists on how to work out exactly what is going on in your head.

What I’m really hoping for with this book is that people will realise that there is someone who ‘gets it’. Who’s there for them and understands them and believes them. I also think it’ll help people come to terms with their illnesses – while also helping people discover what they might be suffering from, but haven’t yet been diagnosed with.

DornI_6WwAAcnE8

But as you guys know I am crowdfunding this book. And, without going too much into detail, this is because literary agents didn’t know where to market the book considering it’s memoir mixed with well-being, and traditional publishers suggested marketing it as a how-to-guide. Which, of course totally missed the point of what I’m doing. And so I’m crowdfunding it, because I believe the fuck out of this book. I’ve worked so hard on it and I hope people will support me and believe in this book as much as I do.

I understand people might be hesitant, which is why I’m just going to list a few things to reassure you what happens with this crowdfunding:

– You are not donating. Every ‘pledge’ is actually a pre-order. When you pledge you are buying the book and the rewards that come with it.

– All of the pledges actually go towards the publishing of the book, which is why it needs funding – because publishing costs money! 

– The difference with what I’m doing with Unbound and buying a book once it’s published is that you get lots of rewards. Your name in the back of the book as a reminder that you helped make it happen, signed copies, the eBook included with every sale and more.

Dovvp07X4AAI-g0

– And this is the most important question I’ve been hearing that needs to be answered: WHAT HAPPENS TO MY MONEY IF IT DOESN’T GET PUBLISHED?! 

If the book very sadly doesn’t get published (which I’m hoping with your support won’t happen), you get your money back. Simple. You don’t lose out on anything. If it happens you get a shiny new book with your name in every single edition of the book – even the ones that will go on sale in book shops after it’s published – and if it doesn’t happen you get a refund.

So I hope I’ve answered any questions you have. I’ve said it a million times but I really hope you’ll support me with this because it means the world to me, I’ve put my heart and soul into it – but most importantly, if you’re currently struggling, this is for YOU.

To support me in this journey, please consider pledging. The sooner this book gets funded, the sooner a shiny, lovely, beautiful copy with your name in the back arrives at you door. Click here to pre-order.

 

Advertisements

OCD and the need to confess things

I recently posted a poll to Twitter asking people what they most wanted to know about my OCD: The fear of contamination, checking things, health anxiety or obsessions of guilt.

I started writing a post about all, but it turns out people are most interest in the latter; guilt. And so, I thought I’d write a whole post about it.

Believe it or not, guilt is a big part of OCD. I know, it was news to me at first, too.

In an article on BeyondOCD, it explained that doubt and guilt are two of OCD’s main features.

It reads: ‘While it is not understood why this is so, these are considered hallmarks of the disorder.  Unless you understand these, you cannot understand OCD.’

The author adds: ‘In the 19th century, OCD was known as the “doubting disease.”  OCD can make a sufferer doubt even the most basic things about themselves, others, or the world they live in.

‘Doubt is one of OCDs more maddening qualities.  It can override even the keenest intelligence.  It is a doubt that cannot be quenched.  It is doubt raised to the highest power.’

Doubt comes in many forms within OCD, often we just don’t realise this. When it comes to OCD, people have their own ‘thing’. Some people wash their hands multiple times, others check the doors and ovens to make sure no harm comes to their home while they’re out. These aren’t just rituals, they’re doubts. Every time we re-check that door, we’re doubting whether it was really locked. Every time we wash our hands again, we’re doubting they were clean enough the first time we washed.

However, doubt doesn’t have to be about a physical thing – and occur emotionally, too. That’s where the guilt comes in.

A big part of OCD is feelings of intense guilt and the need to confess things. I didn’t realise this until recently. I’ve been struggling with guilt and I came across an OCD forum from people living with the same thing. When I put it all in place now, it makes sense.

When I was around seven or eight, I was on a family holiday and I was in a tent with a male family member – who was a year younger than me – playing mums and dads, as you do when you’re little. Half a year later, I broke down to my dad about it. I felt it was wrong. He was a boy, I was a girl, I was only little but I understood at the time that girls fancy boys. I worried whether playing mums and dads had meant there’d been something sexual in it. Of course, there hadn’t been – I was eight, for god’s sake. But that didn’t make it any better.

Even throughout my teenage years – and now – this is a memory that makes me feel uneasy because it’s one that made me feel so dirty at the time. Like I was bad.

The problem is, this is a memory I’d even as a little girl spent time obsessing over. I realise now that this is a symptom of OCD. We forget this because we spell ‘OCD’ out by its letters. We forget that it stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. ‘Obsessive’ being the most prominent word in this case.

Just recently, at age 22, my guilt has been triggered again. I won’t go into it, but something happened a while ago that was completely out of character for me and I’ve spent the last week playing it over and over in my head, thinking about what I’d done and what I could’ve done differently. I’ve played various scenarios over in my head and it’s got so bad that I’ve actually started to convince myself of things I haven’t actually done.

Seriously, I’ve spent the evening crying because my head is telling me I’ve done something that I have absolutely no recollection of. I know in my rational head it’s not real, but my irrational head says otherwise.

In a study by Italian researchers in the journal Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, published in September 2016, it suggests that those with OCD may perceive guilt to be more threatening than most people do – leading them to finding it totally intolerable.

Those who feel intolerable guilt get rid of it the only way they know how: by confessing. OCD confessing is like washing your hands twenty times in a row. It’s a short sense of relief each time.

This is something I’ve been trying to control recently. I’ve been confessing and confessing and confessing to things that make me feel guilty. The guilt goes for a little while, before it hits hard once again with yet another thought to feel guilty about.

It’s a vicious cycle, and one that’s predominant in OCD – it starts with an intrusive thought, it’s followed by a ritual and it’s eased with a short sense of relief.

It’s a cycle that’s not easily broken, either.

I wish I had some advice for others going through these overwhelming feelings of guilt. But the only advice I can offer is not mine – it belongs to some wise woman on an OCD forum.

When you have an awful sense of guilt over an uncontrollable thought, ask yourself these questions:

What do you have to feel guilty about?

Is the guilt ‘real’ or is it your anxiety talking? AKA, is this a new sense of guilt that’s come out of nowhere, or have you actually done physical wrong?

Why do you feel guilty?

Assess the guilt. It’s likely you feel guilty because you have OCD and you are giving importance to your intrusive thoughts.

Who benefits from you confessing?

It may seem like a relief to you to get it all out, but it’s only temporary. Is confessing going to help you, or the person you’re confessing to, long-term?

Remember, you have OCD. OCD does crazy things, and the only way we can control it is learning to cope. Coping with guilt is hard, but it can be done. At least, that’s what I’ve heard – and what I’m hoping.

Mental illness f*cking sucks

I just cried for five minutes because I’m exhausted.

I only cried for five minutes because I  am tired of crying. It makes me even more tired, and I’m tired of that, too. I haven’t admitted it properly to anyone just yet, only voicing my feelings here and there in short tweets, but the last three weeks have been hell. I have struggled to cope. I’m still struggling to cope.

In fact, I’m struggling so much that I have questioned whether there’s any point continuing if things don’t get better. The scary thing is that right now, it feels like things won’t get better. The even scarier thing, however, is that for once, telling myself that nothing would be better than this was the first time I really meant it.

There’s been many a time where I’ve said ‘I don’t want to be here’ when my emotions got too much. But there was always a small fraction of me that didn’t mean it. 10% of me was just crying out for help. But that 10% has now turned to 5% and even that can feel a struggle to hold onto.

For the past three weeks, I have been suffering with health anxiety. I usually hate that word, suffering. But this time I mean it. I have suffered. Deeply.

I have been panicking every day about becoming seriously sick. I have worried all throughout the day, my body filled with nerves and adrenaline, my heart beating fast, my stomach in knots. I’ve tried to drown out the feelings with medication, but the intrusive thoughts and the images are still there.

For a while I just couldn’t get them out of my head. Normally, when my head gets too loud, I escape in my dreams. But I can’t even do that now, because every dream is replaced with a nightmare. Each night a different dream, with similar themes. They’re terrifying. I have broken sleep, waking up and falling back into a nightmare over and over again. I just want it to stop.

The problem is that no matter how many times I tell myself I’m okay, a voice in my head tells me I’m not. And I feel these false physical symptoms that confuse the hell out of me. If Google tells me a certain illness will make me feel a certain way, I’ll start to feel these symptoms. It’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

I know deep down where my fears stem from. I’ve had bad health a couple of times, and both times have lead me to critical condition because symptoms had gone dismissed, unrealised and ignored. And now, when my mind is at its worst, I panic that I’m getting sick but nobody’s seeing it, and that nobody will realise until I’m at my worst. This is terrifying.

It’s fucking awful spending every day worrying about bad things happening.

I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD and health anxiety. The last two are somewhat the same thing. Obsessive, intrusive thoughts. I’ve felt all kinds of emotions due to my mental illnesses, but nothing like I feel with health anxiety.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. Perhaps I want to get across that health anxiety is a real thing. I do. But perhaps I also want to get things out of my system because I feel it’s what I need.

Regardless of the reason, all I know right now is that mental illness fucking sucks.

What I wish people knew about mental illness

According to Mind, one in four people in the UK suffer with mental illness. I am one of those one in four.

I live with a number of mental illnesses. Bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, OCD and health anxiety. And so, as you can probably guess, I’ve experienced mental illness from a number of angles. I know what it’s like to be high and what it’s like to be low. I know what it’s like to be psychotic, obsessional and anxious. But most prominently: I know what it feels to feel like there’s no way out.

I’ve recently been so mentally unwell that I’ve really struggled to cope. To be honest, I haven’t wanted to. I’m terrified of admitting this to the outside world but for the first time in my life, I said that I didn’t want to be here anymore and I meant it. The words themselves felt threatening. I was scared. I’d never felt this way before, and the fact I was actually feeling it, like, really feeling it, made me realise just how much help I needed.

Luckily for me, I’ve felt these feelings while being under the care of the Crisis team, who are currently coming out to my house every other day to check on me and carry out risk assessments. I am not a risk to myself. But other people aren’t so lucky.

Other people don’t have the support. Instead, they suffer in silence. I know, it’s an over-used phrase, but it’s one that rings true. So many people living with mental illness don’t have anyone to talk to. They feel nobody will understand; that nobody will care. They worry they won’t be believed if they speak out. Some people simply don’t have the energy to do so. And this is devastating. People in a time of crisis should not feel as though they have to deal with it alone.

But some feel like they must do so – and I feel a big part of this is because there is still such a stigma attached to mental illness. So many people who haven’t lived with it don’t understand, and this is still so obvious when people suggest things like going for a run, drinking more water or just ‘getting over’ the likes of depression and mood disorders. I just wish the people without mental illnesses would attempt to understand the people with. In fact, there’s so much I wish for in regards to mental illness.

I wish people saw mental illness like they would a broken leg. No doctor would turn around and dismiss a broken leg or expect it to get better on its own. They’d treat it immediately, they’d take it seriously. And mental illness deserves the same treatment.

I wish people would acknowledge mental illness for what it is – an illness. It’s not a personality trait or a lifestyle choice. It’s something that affects and consumes the lives of millions.

I wish people would stop offering unhelpful remedies for mental illness. That they’d realise that while they can be beneficial, healthy diet and exercise is not a cure.

In turn, I wish people would respect those who need medication for their mental illness. That those who don’t get it would stop dismissing people for taking it, as though it makes them weak or something. Taking medication isn’t weak. It shows strength in that you’re doing what you can to cope.

Most importantly, I wish everyone with a mental illness felt comfortable enough to speak out about it to a family member or friend. I wish these people didn’t worry they were going to be judged or not believed. I wish these people realised themselves that their illness is worthy of help. That they are worthy of help. That there are people out there who do care and will support them through a dark time.

But the people who are meant to be there as a support need to prove this themselves.

Whether you know someone with a mental illness or not, be kind, always. Be the person others can reach out to in a time of need, and never turn your back on someone who does so.

You never know you’ll be helping – or just how much.

If you are currently struggling in silence – don’t. Reach out to Samaritans, on 116 123 or by email,  jo@samaritans.org.

A friendship that made me forget my worth

I haven’t really blogged that much recently because I didn’t want it to be like my old blog, where I felt forced to write all of the time because it was what I was doing for a living.

With this blog, I just want to be able to write when I feel able to so that it doesn’t become tedious. But recently something happened that I feel I need to write not just for myself but for anyone going through a similar situation.

Last night, I had to step back and re-evaluate my worth. It may sound silly, but there was a sudden moment when I realised that I wasn’t happy with the way I was being treated by someone very close to me.

I realised that the person I was close to, I wasn’t close to for the right reasons. Our friendship was very one-sided, and to tell you the truth I was getting nothing out of it. I don’t want to go too into detail because I’d like to respect this person, but I feel this is something important I’d like to write about for myself.

I was in a friendship with someone for two years. We had a great time together, we were always very close and we could go months without talking and then pick things up again like we’d never been apart. There was only one problem. I was contributing most things to the friendship.

They gave me their time, their positivity and their entertainment – and in return, I funded it.

Now, a friendship should work equally. You should both be able to enjoy your time together without one person falling shorter than the other. But that wasn’t the case. I was often left with a hefty dent in my bank account from consistently footing the bill for this person. And at first I accepted it, after all my money was going towards memories with this person, and I was having fun – but it wasn’t so fun afterwards when I had to be a lot stricter over necessities, simply because I was never just paying for me, it was always for the both of us.

I excused it for so long, telling myself ‘it’s just what friends do’, but recently I realised that’s just not the case. Because it wasn’t just the aspect of paying for things. I read back through my messages and realised that every time we’d met up, we’d make plans only to be told just before they had no money. Most people, surely, would let a person know before making plans – but this person did it because they simply expected me to accept it, and continue with the plans despite them being unable to contribute to them themselves. As a one-off, this is fine. But as a regular occurrence? It’s not okay.

If I wasn’t able to pay for it, we wouldn’t hang out. And for most people that would be fine, but because I’d become so used to funding our time together I started feeling obligated to do so and would actually feel guilty about not being able to do something because I didn’t want to foot the bill.

It was like the friendship wasn’t free – I either bought it or I was left with nothing.

I’ll admit it, much of it was my own fault. I could’ve said no on so many occasions but as I mentioned above, it felt obligatory – as though we’d have no friendship if I didn’t just suck it up.

And for me, that was a big deal. As someone who’s chronically ill, I don’t get to go out much. I only see a few close friends because going out more publicly and meeting new people makes me nervous because I am constantly worrying about my stomach. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that immediately, before any plans commence, I will ensure we are close to home so that I can come back if needs be. That they’ll remind me to take my medication. That they’ll be there if I begin to feel poorly so I’m not left alone.

And that makes you feel like a burden.

So, to have someone around me who I could enjoy my time with, and felt 100% comfortable with, was a pretty big deal – even if it was taking a chunk out of my bank account.

But a recent occurrence showed that I couldn’t go on like that. I won’t go into detail but the gist of it is that I put a lot of effort into this person to get them through a bad couple of days, putting them first and leaving me having to take a chunk out of my savings.

Two weeks after I’d done so, and I hadn’t heard from this person. Not a peep. Not even a message of thanks.

And last night, I decided enough’s enough. Why should I constantly put effort into a friendship with someone who refuses to put effort in with me? Why should I feel it’s okay for someone to take and take and take from me when I’m getting nothing in return? It’s not an equal friendship. It’s relationship of power – one where I never had the upper-hand. And friendship shouldn’t be about that. You should never feel obligated to do things just to keep a friendship going. It should’t be one-sided. It should be a mutual agreement of respect and understanding – and you should never, ever feel taken advantage of by someone who is meant to be promising that.

As I mentioned above, I was naive, and I only wish I’d taken a step back to evaluate the situation sooner so I didn’t have to learn such an expensive lesson, but alas, here we are.

Of course, these feelings within a friendship won’t always occur for financial reasons – but they send the same message. If someone is repeatedly taking you for granted to the point you expect nothing less and come to expect it, put an end to it. Don’t be that person, like me, feeling guilty because you don’t want to give something to the friendship that your ‘friend’ isn’t giving you in return.

Take some time to evaluate your own feelings and ask yourself whether it’s worth it. Whether the friendship is worth it or whether that friendship will only last depending when you finally decide enough is enough.

Know when enough is enough.

Know your worth.

I only wish I’d known sooner.

Why people are so afraid to speak out about their mental health

Lots of people care about mental illness, I know that.

But it’s a sad truth that many of these people either suffer with mental illness themselves or care about someone who does.

Because really, if something doesn’t affect you or the people around you, you don’t understand it – and therefore you find it hard to empathise with.

But it’s not empathy people with mental health issues are looking for – it’s respect and understanding, which is completely lacking because of people who refuse to want to take time out of their day to believe that people can struggle mentally.

The issue is that so many people with mental illness are afraid to speak out because they’re worried they’ll face judgement. They worry that they won’t be believed or that they’ll have to attempt to justify their feelings just so that they’re acknowledged.

While it’s so easy to tell someone to ‘speak out’, seeing someone actually speaking out can be a whole other story.

Take Sinead O’Connor, for example. In a recent viral video, she sat in an empty motel room crying for help, screaming out for her family to look at how lost she was, struggling so badly that she’d even contemplated taking her own life.

Immediately, people commented on the video telling Sinead how wonderful she was and how they wanted to help – but alongside the copious amount of postitive messages lay the few comments from people who make those people struggling with mental illness afraid to speak out.

‘What have you got to cry about, you’re rich?’ seemed to be a common theme amongst the negative comments.

Apparently, people don’t quite understand that mental illness doesn’t only apply to those who may not be as financially stable.

People don’t choose mental illness, mental illness chooses you – rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.

But because of the common misunderstanding, people are actually afraid to talk about their illness because if they’re not homeless, living a bad home life or look okay from the outside, they should have ‘nothing to cry about’.

The funniest thing of all is that the world is full of a bunch of hypocrites.

If you go through your social media, most people are too busy posting selfies of themselves or tagging their friends in memes to step back and talk about mental health.

The odd post you do see about mental illness is often ignored, with people assuming that person must be ‘seeking attention’ to have posted it online for all to see. Yep, we assume they’re ‘seeking attention’ instead of ‘crying for help’.

But it’s a whole different story when someone actually takes their own life.

Take Chester Bennington for instance. He devastatingly took his own life and instantly people took to social media to share suicide hotline after suicide hotline.

While this was great and hopefully helped some people, I couldn’t help but ask why it took someone actually ending their own life to want to help.

Why had it taken something so extreme for people to want to do something about it?

Why don’t we realise how serious mental health is until it’s too late?

Most importantly: Why is it that it takes something visual to make people realise how dangerous mental health can be?

And this, this is exactly why people are too scared to speak out. Because they’re afraid of what people will say. Because they’re afraid that because people can’t see it, people won’t believe you’re sick.

Because they’re afraid that instead of receiving help, they’ll be mocked or judged.

Because people don’t realise. People don’t realise how badly mental illness can affect you.

How lonely it can make you feel. How empty you can become inside and ultimately how easy it is to lose yourself to feelings of nothing but negativity.

People don’t realise, because they don’t want to take the time to understand – even though understanding could make those living with mental illness so much more at ease in terms of seeking help from those around them.

Because, the bottom line is, the people who don’t want to understand would rather assume.

Because, sadly, it’s easier that way.

How I ended up being diagnosed with bipolar disorder

I’m much more open when it comes to writing about inflammatory bowel disease and living with a stoma than I am about my mental health.

I think this is namely because my stoma was something you could see, and my mental health is something you cannot – and therefore I felt more comfortable speaking out about it. As it was there, it was on my body. Nobody could say I was lying about what had happened (though I hope nobody would think like that anyway).

But with my mental health, it’s different. You have to take my word for it. And with the amount of stigma already attached to the likes of mental health, it feels very difficult to open up about it.

However, in this post, I’m going to do so. I started this blog to highlight both the effects of IBD and mental health and living with both – and so I wouldn’t really be sticking to my aim if I didn’t write about both.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 a-year-and-a-half ago. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that consists of both manic episodes and depressive episodes – and type 1 means that I have more of the former than the latter.

It wasn’t an easy diagnosis and it was one that took a while to be given to me.

My moods had always been erratic. I’d always been easily annoyed and confrontational. But as I reached my late teens, my temper worsened. I’d become angry by the slightest thing which would lead me to having complete meltdowns, crying and screaming.

But then after that meltdown, it was like a switch – I’d often have no memory of getting so distraught, imagining it in my head as if I’d only got a little upset.

After my stoma surgery in 2015, things worsened. I’m not sure if it was the traumatic experience of the surgery and hospital stay that led my moods to worsen, but I’ve never been as bad as I was then.

Me and my partner were in a bad place. A really bad place, in fact. He couldn’t do anything without me becoming angry and aggressive. We would fight and fight and fight until I was left screaming the place down.

But one night things got really bad. I had started an argument out of nowhere – I can’t even remember what the argument was about now – and I was a mess. I was crying, screaming and shouting. I was incredibly aggressive and my partner just couldn’t calm me down no matter what he tried.

I ended up putting myself in the bath tub, screaming until I went lightheaded and slashing my wrists. It sounds extreme, and it was. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it before.

After hurting myself, the pain took all of my focus and eventually I calmed down and I was put to bed.

But the next morning my mum came round unexpectedly. My partner had called her at 1am the night before, feeling helpless.

She told me she was taking me to the doctors, no ifs or buts.

I went to see a GP, and he referred me to a psychiatrist. As my mother also has bipolar disorder, it was easier for me to be referred as the disorder is hereditary. Therefore there was no second-guessing what was going on with me.

Four days later, after an urgent referral, I saw the psychiatrist. He asked me a series of questions about my moods, my life and my relationships. He asked me how I dealt with certain situations and about my emotional capacity.

However, he said it’d take a few sessions to actually diagnose me. He wanted to get to know my moods better first.

At first, he guessed I could be living with borderline personality disorder – a personality disorder in which sees you changing moods dramatically.

But a few sessions later and he’d changed his mind.

You see, my meltdown to you will probably sound like a depressive episode. But it wasn’t. Symptoms of mania don’t necessarily mean you feel elated and high as a kite.

It can also make you erratic, angry and irritated – which can lead to meltdowns such as mine.

Of course, I have experienced other symptoms of mania – which is what led me to my actual diagnosis.

There have been times where I have spent thousands of pounds in a few weeks, on things I didn’t even need.

I’ve gone to get one tattoo after another without even thinking about what I’m putting on my skin in the space of a few weeks (luckily I love all my tattoos, though).

I make snap decisions without thinking of the consequences and I often regret my choices after I become ‘stable’.

All of these things are symptoms of mania that I have lived with on and off for the past 18 months.

While I do have depressive episodes, I don’t have them as much as the manic ones. My depressive episodes can be just as severe, though.

I isolate myself, I stop looking after myself and there have been times where I have questioned taking my own life. But I know that’s the disorder talking and not me, luckily.

Being officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder was scary, but it was also a relief. It was a relief to know that I wasn’t crazy – that I was just ill. I was poorly and I needed help. I needed support and someone to understand, and my psychiatrist did just that.

Since my diagnosis, I have been trialled on various medications. Some good, some bad. One of the worst having made me gain a stone and a half in weight and giving me a chin full of acne. But it was worth it to make me feel better.

Currently, I take five different medications every night including mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and sleeping pills, as I often suffer with nightmares and lack of sleep during a manic episode.

While some people don’t agree with medication, I can hand on heart say it’s been my life saver. I am currently the most stable I’ve been in a long time and I owe it all to that medication.

After months and months of despair and horrifically intense emotions, I’m able to think clearly and acknowledge situations before putting myself in them. And that to me is everything.

I’m now a very calm person and I don’t actually remember the last time I had a melt down – which is something I’d previously never thought I’d ever be able to say.

I am also very lucky to have such supportive family, friends and a loving partner who has stuck by me through everything, which I’m sure has helped in leading me to my stability now.

Of course, there has been a lot more to my diagnosis than rock bottom and stability – there is the matter of severe manic episodes, medication reviews and a depressive episode that led me to A&E and being seen by a Crisis team.

But I’m going to save all of that for future articles, when I find the courage to write them.