Bipolar – coming out of my bipolar closet

I turned to drink and drugs. I lurched from one unhealthy relationship to the next, some of which were dangerously unhealthy. I came very close to ending my life.

It’s taken me 44 years. 44 years! But I’ve only gone and done it. I mean, really done it. There’s no going back now.

I’m out. I’m well and truly out of my bipolar closet.

I can still recall that tentative, nervous little whisper to myself, suggesting that I might want to start blogging about my life with bipolar. That was eight months ago. And thankfully, my scared little whisper found its voice.

Blogging though, it turns out, was only the start. It was the start of a whole new dawning. And in a way, a whole new way of life.

So what’s changed? What’s all the fuss and gratitude for?

Well, the big news is that I’m about to have my first book published. I can’t quite believe I’m writing that. I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet!

30765c26-8693-4ab5-bd4c-25a464d06d5f(1)‘Beautiful Chaos’ is an autobiography of my journey through life, living with an undiagnosed mental illness. As a professional television presenter, fronting some fairly high profile shows, my public persona was a million miles from the chaotic mess behind the scenes.

I turned to drink and drugs.

I lurched from one unhealthy relationship to the next, some of which were dangerously unhealthy.

I came very close to ending my life.

Diagnosed at 35 though, life changed almost immediately. With the right medication and treatment, I’ve found that I can live a meaningful life.

I still have daily battles against the gremlin, but that’s ok. I’ve never surrendered yet, and have no intention of doing so. He can, as I always say, do one.

Being diagnosed was life-changing, but there was still a monumental issue. Secrecy. Fear. Deceit even.

Although my mood swings now made sense to me, I would never have dreamed of sharing the fact that I have bipolar. Never.

Employers would think I was unemployable. Unreliable. A loose canon. Or simply, a nutter.

I’d be whispered about at the water cooler, all of which would perpetuate the depressive lows. Or even the hypomanic episodes.

Eight months ago though, I reached a place where I no longer worried about what people thought.

Quite where this whole ‘being at peace with myself’ came from, I’m not sure.

That’s ok though. I’m there. I’m at peace with who I am.

If the gremlin dons his armour for battle, whilst I’m fighting through it, I no longer make excuses for needing to pull out of a social engagement.

I now say, quite matter of factly, that I’m struggling with a depressive black low so will need to do a rain check.

And why not? It’s true! If I had a migraine I’d be honest about that, so why should this be any different?

Depression is real. Mental illness is real. And the most wonderful thing is that I’ve never regretted being open.

That’s not to say everyone buys into mental illness. The old ‘pull your socks up’ belief is still very much alive.

But not where it matters.

IMG_1462That old adage of ‘Those who mind don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind’ has never before held such meaning to me.

However, two weeks ago, the ‘at peace with myself’ thing was taken to another level.

This was one almighty big step, and one which kept me awake for nights on end.

A live TV appearance.

I was invited to appear on the current affairs show, ‘Scotland Tonight’, to talk about my experience of living with bipolar.

Wow. Really? What… broadcast to my home nation that I have a mental illness?

But I did it. And just as before, I don’t regret it.

The response has been overwhelming. And humbling.

None of this means that I’m some kind of superhero who wears her pants outside her trousers. Far from it.

It simply means that I’ve reached this place at a time that was right for me.

Being open is not right for everyone, and I totally understand that. We all have our own coping mechanisms, and nobody can presume to know what’s right for you.

This is just my story.

But, if you do hear that nervous little whisper as I did, let it talk. Let it talk so that you can then make up your own mind about what’s best for you.

You deserve that. You deserve peace. You matter.

Be 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.

4 thoughts on “Bipolar – coming out of my bipolar closet”

  1. I’m so sorry, and very embarrassed at not having responded to your gorgeous comment until now.

    But, and I think you’ll get what I mean, when I say that I’m delighted you’ve been given an accurate diagnosis.

    I’m only sorry it’s taken 53 years to reach that day, and therefore to be properly medicated and treated. As you’ll know from ‘Beautiful Chaos’, I was 35 when I eventually discovered that I was living with the the illness. I can only imagine how difficult life (at times) has been for you prior to your diagnosis.

    Here’s to finding a life worth living, despite our gremlins.

    I’m so happy that my book helped you to feel less alone. I’m always here if you feel scared, overwhelmed, or overpowered by the gremlin. You can always get in touch, and I promise to respond more quickly next time!

    Could I ask a favour? Would you mind writing a brief review of ‘Beautiful Chaos’ on Amazon for me? I believe the more reviews it has, the higher the ranking, therefore the more people it will reach, and hopefully help.

    Keep well, and know that you’re never alone. We’re #bipolarrocknrollers. xx

  2. I have been diagnosed with bipolar 2 at the age of 53, now looking back it explains all my terrible depressive lows and numerous hospital admissions due to suicide risk had two serious suicide attempts. Only this year did I have my first hypomanic episode ( well one this identified)
    I could so relate to so much you wrote about in your book , I have just finished reading it.
    Thank you for your bravery and honesty and for the fact I felt less alone after reading your story.

  3. Aw thank you so much, Dy. It’s people like you, my wonderful new kindred spirit from over the pond, that give me the confidence and desire to keep writing, and to work at ending the stigma surrounding mental health. Sending love and strength. xx

  4. Beautiful post, Ali! Your journey from keeping your “dark secret” to where you are today is truly remarkable *and* inspiring!

    It took me a while to sit my arse down and give this post the proper attention it deserves, but I finally made it!

    And as is my tradition, I must share my favorite part with you (well, it’s one of them!):

    “But, if you do hear that nervous little whisper as I did, let it talk.
    Let it talk so that you can then make up your own mind about what’s best for you.”

    Okay, here’s the other fave part:

    “You deserve peace. You matter.”

    Thank you for baring your soul yet again with us, you amazing kindred spirit!

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