I’ve decided to write about something I and many others have to live with every day. Mental Illness.
1/4 of the population of the UK have been diagnosed with a mental illness of some kind, but I’m sure the figure is higher. I think there are those who are suffering in silence and haven’t gone and seen someone about it.
This is my experience. I’ll start with an introduction.
My name is Chris. I’m 36 years old and live my lovely wife Helen and my cat Millie. I work for the second largest gas distribution company in the UK, dealing with the digital mapping of its assets in the ground. As well as this, I am a local Councillor. In short, I live what most people call a normal life. However I suffer from Bipolar disorder.
I think a description of Bipolar disorder is in order.
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that used to be known as manic depression, and it is the form of mental illness that means you vary between extreme highs and lows in your mood.
I take medication to help me control my mood. a cocktail of Lamotrigine and Quetiapine. However all this does is dull the edges slightly. I appear happy and calm to most people. A lot of the time, this is true. However some of the time, this is an act. Those closest to me know when I’m not OK and support me when needed.
I’m going to start by telling you what I’m not.
I’m not a psycho, I’m not mental, I’m not a danger to society (the person most in danger from my condition is me.) I don’t need locking away. I’m not going to physically hurt anyone else.
I suffer from an illness, but unlike flu, a cold, arthritis or any other acute illness or trauma, my illness is invisible. Because of this, some people don’t acknowledge that I or any other MH sufferer is ill at all.
I’m lucky. My GP is excellent, and my experience with the Adult Mental Health teams in Hampshire has been good (although the cuts had yet to bite!). Also I don’t seem to suffer from any major side effects from the medication.
Others are not so lucky.
I have a friend who lives in Surrey. Their experience with their NHS MH team couldn’t be more different, and this left that person having to deal with things alone. That person’s own inner strength and determination is what sees them through.
Mental Health provision in the NHS is either very good or appalling. There does’t seem to be an in between.
So that’s part one.
In the next few days, I’ll look at getting part two up, which will continue the introduction with some of my feelings. I’ve not decided whether it will be the high or the low moods I’m going to talk about.