My Name is Helen

I developed symptoms of bipolar disorder from age 26 onwards, but this was not diagnosed correctly until I was 43 years old. The last few years before my diagnosis were very difficult for me and my family as I suffered from repeated episodes of psychosis and extended period of mania with very little sleep, rest or food.

It is now over three years since my bipolar diagnosis and I have learnt a lot during this time about managing my condition and coping with it in my everyday life. I would say that the main areas that have helped me to adjust and to reclaim my life are:

 

  • Medication, monitored by my CPN and consultant psychiatrist.
  • Regular contact with my CPN through the community mental health team.
  • Establishing and maintaining a routine and a regular sleeping pattern.
  • Completing courses at New Horizons: the support and encouragement I received there increased my self-confidence and self-belief greatly, as well as enabling me to learn new skills.
  • Finding interests and activities that I enjoy, such as gardening, floral art and printmaking.
  • Completing a course of CBT and learning how to apply this in the ongoing ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of my life.
  • Completing a WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Programme) through New Horizons: I found this gave me hope that I could take charge of my own well-being, and I think this is enormously important for service users, as it is something we can easily lose sight of.
  • Opportunities to ‘give something back’: I am currently doing this through volunteering with FASA and helping with a club for the elderly folks.

 

When I was diagnosed I was living with my husband and out two boys, who were then aged 15 and 12. I think it would have been very helpful for them to have had support and to gain an understanding of the condition and it’s ongoing management.  Bipolar disorder is difficult to live with for everyone in the family, and as a family we did not receive this kind of support.

For me, the most important thing in my ongoing recovery has been overcoming the acute sense of uselessness and helplessness that I felt at the start. I can look positively towards the future knowing that I have the tools and the support to deal with the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ along the way.

 


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