Mental health has always been a subject close to my heart. I suffered from depression and it’s had a huge impact on my life. The stress, negative chatter and sadness that comes with depression has been overwhelming to say the least. With World Bipolar Day approaching my thoughts have turned towards other mental health illnesses such as bipolar affective disorder and how those who suffer from them cope with the every day runnings of their lives.
I spoke to Aicha to find out more about her condition and how being bipolar has affected her life. Carry on reading for the full interview.
How did you find out you had bipolar affective disorder?
My symptoms started when I was a teenager, I would get really sad and cry for no reason this was down to my depression. I would be fine whilst in school and have lots of energy, but once I got back to my apartment I would sit on the floor and cry. When the mania flared up, I would stay up for days at a time, baking.
I was misdiagnosed for years and given the wrong medication, it never helped. In 2012 I saw my GP; she said I had been misdiagnosed, that I suffered from bipolar affective disorder and NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)
How did your family/friends react?
When I told my mom that I was bipolar she was like: “yeah I kind of suspected that, but I didn’t want to label you.” It was like finding a missing puzzle piece, all the past issues made sense. My sisters all have some form of bipolar and my brother success from severe depression. My dad suffers from Schizophrenia with Split Personality Disorder.
What are the worst symptoms you suffer from?
The worst symptoms are when I am in a mixed state where I am both depressed and manic. I will tear apart the house and re-organise it, and be crying, all at the same time. The easiest thing for people to do when I am in a manic, depressive or a mixed state is to just leave me alone and let me crash. Eventually, I will fall out of being manic and then I will sleep for a while, but never very long.
How has this affected your daily life?
It is a struggle every day; some days are worse than others. That is why I always schedule everything. If I’m having an episode, I will forget things, so I write everything down. Sometimes, I write it down in several different places. I always set multiple alarms clocks so that I’m not late.
What support would you like to see available for people who suffer from bipolar affective disorder?
Social support would be great. When I am really depressed I don’t see anyone, I don’t talk to anyone on the phone, or go out, I stay home and re-watch old TV shows.
What advice would you give to anyone else suffering from bipolar affective disorder?
Find what helps your depressive and bipolar moods and stick with it. If it doesn’t help, or if it makes you feel worse, then it’s not working. Exercise is very important, so are hobbies and daily outings when the weather is nice. If it’s cold out then try going somewhere indoors to exercise and get out of the house at least three times a week for your own sanity. I have found that my mood gets worse if I eat unhealthy stuff like red dyes and weird additives; so I try and eat as healthy as possible it makes me feel better.
Thank you to Aicha for being brave enough to share her story.