Shared Emotional Health Stories

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Our latest submission is from a service user who wanted to share their experience of living with Bipolar Disorder in the hope it may help others realise they do not suffer alone and that there is hope.

If you want to share your experience of poor emotional health with us, you can do so anonymously if you prefer, by contacting contact@sossilenceofsuicide.org .  We accept video recordings, written content and audio content.

A day in the life of living with bipolar -Anon- This information belongs to SOS Silence of Suicide. 

Living with Bipolar – A service user’s story

Do I think I have bipolar? No!! I think I’m a perfectly normal functioning human….until I hit a low, or a high. 

Some days I wake up and I’m Eeyore, others I’m tigger!  Eeyore doesn’t  want to get out of bed, or brush their teeth, Eeyore won’t eat or take medication. Eeyore just exists, They can’t interact or communicate, they simply shut down. Eeyore is horrible to themselves and everyone around them. Eeyore can see that They are being irrational but They can’t stop themselves. They think they are worthless and pathetic. If they are really low and feel suicidal it’s not because They want to die, They just want the world to stop. Eeyore likes to sleep. 

When I was Unmedicated I once asked my psychiatrist if she could wash my brain to make it stop. I get this brain fog and I am unable to do the most basic of tasks. Cooking forget it! I couldn’t even figure out how to turn the oven on. I won’t clean the house or shower. I just become this human who sits and shuts out the world. I am medicated for my bipolar and thankfully my lows are few and far between. I generally only get a low if I’ve been triggered. My triggers are not set in stone, it could be a smell or someone giving me road rage. It could be something on tv that upsets me and plays on my mind. 

I am the worlds biggest over thinker. If someone’s said to me “oh your hair looks nice long” I wouldn’t take that as a compliment, it’s not that simple. My bipolar brain would say “did my hair look stupid before?”

This will then trigger paranoia, oh the paranoia!!! It’s reading a texts 100 times and wondering why the sender didn’t put kisses, its seeing people laughing and thinking it’s about me, it’s thinking that people are discussing me all the time…. It’s all irrational thoughts. 

Then comes the tigger in me. Hellllloooo tigger, I personally love tigger that person is fun and care free. That person doesn’t care if they spend their rent money on 40 tins of beans and 10 bottles of shampoo. Obsessively filling the cupboards because of course we need 80 toilet rolls. That person likes to clean and will top to bottom the house in a day. Clean beds, curtains washed, work is easy. The dog gets 4 walks a day, I cook meals and i laugh and play with the family. 

But tigger had no filter, tigger forgets that bills need to be paid and tigger doesn’t care. Tigger hates mess. Sleep doesn’t come easy when tigger comes out, we don’t need sleep! We need to do things and empty the kitchen cupboards at 4am because, well why not. Putting our books in alphabetical order, the the. Redoing them in size order because it didn’t look right. When I’m on a high all the plug switches will be off before bed and they all have to be the same. Tigger is exhausting. 

Bipolar is different for everyone, we all have varying symptoms the only consistency being the highs and the lows. For me I am lucky, I have a very supportive partner who makes sure I take my medication and my moods are very stable. Remember right at the beginning I said I don’t have bipolar? Thanks to my medication I don’t, I function just like someone who have no diagnosed mental health issues would. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have highs and lows, what it does mean is that I function better and I can rationalise with myself, They are less severe now.

*Full written permission has been received by SOS to share this content anonymously from our service user.  It has not been edited and is reproduced in its original format.

*This is one person’s experience only and should not be used as a tool for you to measure your own experiences by, or to attempt to self diagnose.  If you feel you may be suffering from BPD, please contact your GP in the first instance.

Copyright assigned to SOS Silence of Suicide 2021

CARLA’S STORY

This is Carla’s story of her journey with lifelong low self esteem …

‘As a child, I stood out.  Not because I was clever, or pretty, or a favourite, but because I was painfully shy and scared to open my mouth.  I believed at a very young age that I had nothing useful to say and that whatever words did come out, I’d be laughed at.  So I stood out for all the wrong reasons and my feelings about myself made me what I didn’t want to be – more visible.

My teenage years were awful, I hated them and I’d never want to be that young, that uncertain, that frightened and insecure ever again.  I felt different.  All the other teenagers I knew seemed to be able to talk, laugh, relax, and I just couldn’t .  They all looked so pretty and handsome; the girls with their make up and hair done, the boys in their first suits or just jeans – anything but school uniforms!  Everyone, I felt, was moving forwards, embracing growing up and loving it.  They were excited by it.  But for me, I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me so I’d not have to try and  put on this continuous face to the world, which I was hopeless at anyway.

The girls with their fabulous hair, make up and clothes I could not compete with.  I recall being dragged very unwillingly into Boots one day with 2 girls who thought I should get a life.  They started trying on make up and using the small mirrors to see how the exciting new shade of lipstick looked on them.  I was emotionally devastated having to do the same, I couldn’t look at myself and they laughed their heads off.  On the way home, I remember saying ‘I am pretty really you know, like you, you do believe me don’t you?’ and they laughed again. That reinforced it – never ever open your mouth again.

By the time I moved onto further education at college, I was having extreme thoughts such as ‘God, how ugly am I? I can’t even look at me, how can I inflict myself on the world?’ I was actively hiding away, using any desperate excuse I could think of to avoid mixing. With anyone.  And I was my own worst critic – I saw nothing good, nothing positive in myself at all.  I had no self esteem whatsoever.

You know the saying ‘You’re your own worst enemy’ – well yes, I was.  I pressed the self destruct button daily, multiple times a day.  Driving people away who tried to include me, be nice to me, was easier than feeling the abject distress and awkwardness that would result from mixing with them.  I was labelled a snob.  I was quite the opposite, but it didn’t come across that way at all.

And then, I really did become disliked.  I was labelled as ‘off’, ‘snooty’, ‘above herself’ and ‘rude’

This pattern of behaviour, withdrawal, this sincerely held belief that I was not as good as anyone else, that I had nothing to offer, that I was a complete waste of space, affected my life for decades.  At one point, I battled anorexia (no I wasn’t overweight at all, but I thought being skinner would make me happy and come out of my shell).  I started self harming.  Over the years, I’d physically hurt myself because in my mind, I was so worthless, I deserved it.  I abused myself in many ways because of the torture inside.  I let others abuse me because that’s what someone like me deserved.

And I’d get angry, from frustration in myself.  Rather than focus on dealing with my issues, I’d focus on other peoples’ shortcomings.  Classic deflection and refusal to acknowledge.

So, at 50, where am I now?  Well, I now know why these feelings started and where they came from.  Those are things I address privately, they are not for sharing, not for me anyway.  It’s helped, acknowledging that low self esteem had a starting point, a reason.  It validated how I feel the way I do.

I still need reassurance.  I’m not as bad as I once was.  These days, mostly I can reassure myself, but there are still times I need the support of my husband, my children even.

It hasn’t been easy.  I can feel easily threatened.  If I’m in a group situation with people I imagine are cleverer, more beautiful, or just generally better than me, I begin to withdraw and wither.  But rather than prolong my agony, or become irritable with others, I politely make my excuses and leave and work through it in my mind.  This always helps.  And I talk too.  Support lines, family members.  So many understand so much more than I thought they would.  That in itself makes me feel better, stronger.  Sometimes I repeat how I’m feeling, talk it over and over, trying to make sense of it, but it’s the only way I’ve found to beat the negative thoughts, alongside avoiding situations where I know my self esteem issues could create tensions and leave me feeling even worse.

It’s a bit like if you have negative people around you, you try and move away because of the impact they can have on you.   The same for me, if I’m in (what I think is) a threatening (to my self esteem) situation, I will simply remove myself from it.  It’s a really positive step to take.

I can’t honestly say I’ll have good self esteem and certainly not high self esteem.  But what I do have now is a small degree of self esteem.  And that, for me, is good enough.

END

Copyright assigned to SOS 2021