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!
‘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.
That 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