4 – Bipolar – stepping out of the sea

My plan was to take a whole heap of valium and wade out into the sea until it became so deep that I’d need to swim. To swim as far as I possibly could, until exhaustion and the valium kicked in. I wanted to drown. I wanted to die.

Tomorrow evening Handsome Doc, MK and I are off to Dubai for a few days. We’re all so excited – MK at the prospect of spending all day in the swimming pool, Handsome Doc and I at the prospect of some decent weather!

It’s been so wet and dull lately, hasn’t it? And like many people, these winter months impact on my mood. Not in a bipolar way I don’t think, just in a normal, human way.

I absolutely love the summer months!

Everyone seems so much happier. There’s a sort of a kindness of spirit in the air.

Plus, I dress in practically the same stuff every day – turned up jeans, t-shirt and flip flops, with a cute little ankle bracelet and a couple of toe rings. Boom! There it is. No thought required in the morning about what to wear. Simple.

flip flopsIf it gets seriously hot, that outfit doesn’t change much. It just shrinks – denim cut-offs, a stretchy spaghetti strap top, and of course the ubiquitous flip flops and aforementioned jewellery. Love it!

I value simplicity in every walk of life, even in a seemingly frivolous thing such as simple summer clothes.

The phrase, ‘simplicity is genius’ really resonates with me.

That said, I’ve been buying a few different things for this summer. I just got a long, flowing boho-style dress with long splits at the side which I’ll boho dresswear with my short, tan cowboy boots and a long, chunky necklace. That’s how the model in the picture wore it and she looked good, although probably had a good 6 inches in height on me!

Quite a departure in style, but I loved it when I tried it on.

So Dubai.

I absolutely love going on holiday now, but I think the reason I love and appreciate them so much is because of something that happened in the past.

It was around 16 years ago. Work was sparse for the only time in my 23 year career.

Given the unpredictability of the life of a tv presenter, to have sustained just one short period of lean times is pretty good going, but of course at that time, there was no knowing that this was to be a relatively short lived spell.

I guess it lasted for 6 months or so. Long enough, given that I had a mortgage and bills to pay. And bipolar, which although undiagnosed, was living within me like a volcano which would erupt whenever it so chose.

I tried hard to keep my spirits up. I read self-help books (not specifically on bipolar), I even read the bible.

I went running every day.

I spent time on my appearance – my nails were immaculately manicured, I wore make up each day, I straightened my hair and even treated it to regular hair masks.

Given my obsessive side, my flat was permanently in show home mode.

Eventually though, I gave up. I caved in and withdrew from the outside world.

I frequently contemplated ending it all. What use was I to anyone? My savings were depleting at a rate of knots, soon I would be unable to support myself. I was a failure.

This successful and fairly well known TV presenter had become a washed up has been.

What had happened is an all too familiar story to many of us in the TV industry.

The free flowing offers of work that had come so readily had simply dried up. Where once I had not even had to try to get work, and in fact was turning work down due to my crammed work schedule, all of sudden I couldn’t buy work.

My parents. My sisters. They had been so proud of my achievements. But now? What now? What were they to tell their friends when they were asked about what I was up to now?

What I couldn’t see back then of course, was that they were still, and always are proud of me. Their pride and love is unconditional. I was never defined by the work that I did or didn’t do. I was defined by me. Purely and simply by me. Thank you family.

Wow where did that come from? The tears are now rolling down my cheeks as I write. I can’t stop crying.

I’m so lucky and blessed. My family are just incredible.

They have, and continue to be unconditionally supportive of me, and my goodness have I dragged them through hell at times. Many many times.

Still crying. Crying really hard.

I don’t think it’s sadness I’m feeling. I feel a nonsensical mix of enormous gratitude, significant levels of guilt, and pure, raw, inexplicable emotion.

Thank emotions, thank you for still being alive and accessible.

As many of you will know, anti-depressants can numb emotions. At times I’ve longed to cry and to feel. To feel the ups and downs of everyday life.

Today I feel emotional. I am real. I am me. I can feel. Thank you emotions.

This may not seem like a big thing, but it is to me. It’s pretty humungous actually. Emotion has been suppressed for so long, at times longing to be expressed, yet just stamped upon by the meds.

Thank you, thank you that I can still access me.

Mostly though, thank you family. Thank you just isn’t enough. I love you all so very much. So very much that I’m in bits just thinking about you.

Ok. Back to my point about holidays.

So all these years ago, my extraordinary family got together and decided that I needed a holiday. A change of scene away from the four walls of my ‘show home’.

My sister and her family were heading off to Spain for Easter and very kindly asked me to join them.

At the time I wasn’t sure I could face it. The safety of my own home was almost more than I could cope with, far-less travelling to another country.

Nonetheless, I went. Mum and Dad paid for my flights, the accommodation came courtesy of my sister, and even I would manage to scrape together enough pesetas for some tapas.

Now the reality of what was to follow is so painful I’m not sure I’m able to relay it all in any great detail just at the moment. At least not yet.

It was so many years ago, but I’ve actually never revisited it since then. As I sit here tapping away on my (boyfriend’s) laptop I’m wobbling with emotion. There are so many tears that if I delve too deeply I won’t be able to see my screen for tears!

I don’t mean to make light. This is hard. This is excruciating.

I hope you will allow me to leap forward a few stages to that dreadful day when I stood knee deep in the see on an empty beach contemplating the worst.

My plan was to take a whole heap of valium and wade out into the sea until it became so deep that I’d need to swim. To swim as far as I possibly could until exhaustion and the valium kicked in and I couldn’t swim any longer. I wanted to drown. I wanted to die. Suicide seemed like the only option.

I wanted to sink into a beautiful oblivion. To stop the pain. To stop the agonizing loneliness and feelings of uselessness. To stop the constant tears and physical tightness in my chest. To be free. To be light.

beach 2

I played with the bottle of valium in my pocket. (The pocket of my cut-offs, obvs).

Ironic really that they have a child tamper proof opening. Ought there not be a tamper proof opening for suicidal depressives wanting to overdose? Perhaps not since we ought to know better. We ought to pull our socks up and get on with life. Yeah right.

I stood in the sea that early evening for what seemed like hours. I watched the sun go down. I very slowly and very gradually walked in a little deeper until I the water was skimming the bottom of my cut-offs. I barely remember doing that, but I know I did.

So many thoughts were going through my mind, in a very slow and, I thought at the time, rational way.

I never did take these valium.

I ended up sitting on the beach crying. Crying loudly. Wailing. This was, remember, a deserted beach. I let my emotions spill out uncontrollably.

So what stopped me?

My family. Amidst all the questions I had in my head during this severe depressive low, was the question of how my family would ever get over the pain of losing me.

My poor poor sister would never have known where I had gone and what had become of me. She would have had to, eventually, get on the plane home without me.

Tears. Tears again. I’m determined to finish this blog though. The tears can roll, this must be good therapy for me.

My poor parents. I can’t bear to put my mind there. I love them though, and couldn’t ruin their lives. I love them more than I can tell you.

The valium ended up in the sea, but without me.

I beat this low. But it was as close a call as I ever got to ending it all.

I beat it. I won that battle, and I hope with all my being that others win their battles too.

I give my love and strength to each and every soul who is suffering today, at this very moment.

Keep well. x

Author: talkandcheese

I'm 44 and have just retired from having been a TV presenter for over 20 years to become a full time mummy and housewife. I live with my boyfriend and 5 year old son. Together we all live with my bipolar 2. I was only diagnosed 9 years ago and it had been an utterly chaotic ride prior to treatment and meds. Every day could be like chalk and cheese. Life is so much less frightening now, but I still get hypomanic episodes and depressive lows. The time feels right for me to share some of my story now, in which there were some devastating lows and some equally as frightening and exhausting highs. The process is helping me to heal, and I hope with all my heart may offer someone somewhere some level of comfort and support that they are not alone.

6 thoughts on “4 – Bipolar – stepping out of the sea”

  1. Thank you, Dy. it was such a tough post to write, but if it comforts anyone else who’s been through something similar, it was worth it. Feeling your love and support, thank you, and sending bucket loads right back. 💪🏻💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What powerful post! It was incredibly brave of you to write this & share it with us, Ali. Your authentic self is shining through every paragraph- even throughout the darkest section. I can’t begin to explain how glad I am that you beat that low!

    I loved this line you wrote, “Ironic really that they have a child tamper proof opening. Ought there not be a tamper-proof opening for suicidal depressives wanting to overdose?”

    How true, how true!!

    Although it’s close to impossible to write while crying, it’s so therapeutic. It’s a sign of good, no, make that great mental health that you cried when you were writing about this time in your life!

    Sending much love your way,
    Dy 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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