Bipolar – baby steps

I’ve come to realise that by and large, people want to understand more about mental illness. People are now more aware than ever that this is a very real issue for very many people.

T-minus 6 days.

The release of my book is fast approaching. ’Beautiful Chaos’ will hit the shelves on 14th November, and I’m finding the whole thing entirely surreal!IMG_1027

Maybe I’ll believe it’s really happening when I’m holding a copy of the book in my hands. Maybe.

And what a raft of emotions this writing process has evoked!

There’s excitement and pride, and there are nerves.

Largely though, there’s enormous gratitude that I’ve been given the opportunity to tell my story. Trigger Publishing has shown such faith in me, and for that I will always be thankful.

I’ve been asked a lot over the past few months why I decided to write my book.

trigger logoThe reason has always been clear to me. On the day I was offered my book deal, I told my editor that I desperately wanted to reach out to fellow battlers to offer some kind of comfort.

He got that. In fact my book is part of the ‘inspirational series’ which seeks to do just that.

I dearly hope that by sharing my journey to what’s now a meaningful life, it will offer some encouragement to others to keep fighting.

Years ago, as a confused and frightened young woman, I wish I’d known that I was not alone in experiencing wild mood swings deep depression, and debilitating, exhausting highs.

I would have felt so much stronger and less isolated.

I would have been reassured that maybe, just maybe, there is help out there, and that I wasn’t a solitary soul with a tormented mind that not even I could understand. Or predict.

The solid brick wall that separated my chaotic and dark world from reality, would have become wobbly. I would have found a way to knock through it, and to participate in a world which up until that point, had seemed unattainable to me.

I hope against hope that the right people happen across my book, and that maybe… just maybe… it will offer some peace to a fellow tortured soul.

scotland tonight grabIt’s a curious thing though. Over the past few weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to feature in several newspapers, and appear on a TV show and a couple of radio shows. Each of these have mentioned my book, but have also lifted the lid on mental illness.
I’ve been delighted, without exception, at the way in which the subject has been handled by everyone, be it the journalists, TV presenters or radio hosts.

And yet, before opening myself up to the inevitable PR that comes with writing a book, I felt nervous.

Being in front of a camera was obviously not the issue given my twenty five year career as a TV presenter. Even appearing in a newspaper was something I’d done many times, again due to my TV work.

So what was it then?

It was me. It was coming clean about the fact I have bipolar to absolutely everybody. Not just to friends and family, but to anybody and everybody.

I was holding the very essence of who I am in my hands and lobbing it out there as far as I could. There was a ‘stone skip’ effect though. Just like the stone skips across the water creating a ripple effect, so too would my story.

Now look. I’m not for one second suggesting that the entire population has an interest in my little life! Not at all!

surrey advertiserIt’s hardly the same as when Madonna locked lips with Britney at the VMAs and the entire world erupted!

But it’s all relative I guess. For me, particularly in Scotland where I became vaguely well known, this was going to have a bit of an impact.

And it has.

But do you know what? The reaction and the feedback from friends and strangers alike, has been 100% positive.

The impact has been good!

Thank you human race. I should have had more faith in you.

As my Mammy always says, “There are more good people out there than bad.”
My visions of being ridiculed have not come to fruition.

I’ve come to realise that by and large, people want to understand more about mental illness. People are now more aware than ever that this is a very real issue for very many people.

It seems that every day there’s something about mental health in the news.
The UK Chancellor, Philip Hammond announced in the recent budget that funding for mental health services will increase to the tune of £2 billion per year.

He even used the phrase, “ending the stigma”. Go Phil!

I really do believe we’re getting there. Don’t you?

Now I’m not sitting here tapping away on my laptop wearing my rose tinted specs. I know there’s a long way to go. A very long way.

But I think… dare I say it… that we’re moving forwards.

By continuing to talk openly about it we are educating people. We are highlighting the fact that mental illness is real.

It’s not a label we slap on our foreheads to excuse our weak characters, or to seek sympathy.

It’s horribly real, and not a life choice.

It sucks, and even in heightening it’s grim reality, it doesn’t magic away the gremlin when he appears.

It’s a start tough.

It’s progress.

baby steps quoteAnd just as we’ve taught ourselves to take baby steps forward as we clamber out of our most frightening and debilitating lows, so too must the rest of the world as it clambers into acceptance and understanding.

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.

2 thoughts on “Bipolar – baby steps”

  1. Beautiful, beautiful post, Ali! It’s divinely written and from the 💜.

    Your book will undoubtedly help people. Your public appearances/interviews most definitely have helped many people already! Keep it all going (in moderation, that is) so you have a balanced life! These are not easy subjects to discuss. It’s not a walk in the park (which you did, literally, during that one big Scotland TV interview) to bare your soul publically and in print. You revealed many of the ugliest, darkest times in your life in “Beautiful Chaos” and your readers will respect that!

    It’s obvious you have the best motivation for doing what you’re doing. You don’t want others battling mental illness to feel so tortured by their gremlins. I can’t think of a worthier topic to discuss on a tv show or to cover in a newspaper article or your book. And give yourself credit – you don’t have the word “F*ck* or “Sh*t” in your book title like so many books have these days. (Ohhh, that stupid trend drives me batty!!!!)😱

    I could go on and on like I always do in your blog comment section (LOL!), but take that as a heartfelt compliment to the power of your writing and the magnificent your mission, dear one. Love you!💕💪🏽

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