Stephen Fry has been diagnosed with cyclothymia, which he has described as ‘bipolar lite’ a milder form of bipolar disorder. Coincidently I have also been diagnosed with cyclothymia. So when I heard Stephen’s podcast interview with Richard Herring in which he shared details of his mental health issues, including a recent suicide attempt I felt an affinity with what he shared. I knew how hard sharing that must have been for him.
I have shared details of my mental health issues with you here and here. I’ve shared these feelings in hopes that I can lesson the stigma, normalise the illness for others. However to be honest I find sharing the details of my faulty brain excruciatingly embarrassing. I don’t want to be the ‘crazy girl’ the ‘unpredictable one’ or the ‘unreliable one’. I want to fit in, and when I’m well I just want to pretend that the illness is not there. I’ve experienced unstable mood for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a diagnosis for these mood swings for over ten years and yet I’m still somewhat in denial. I don’t want it to be my story.
I take medication now, daily, and it works really well. Regardless there are still some days on which I want to skip it, to prove to myself that I don’t need it. Perhaps the doctors have this wrong, perhaps without it I will be just fine. So I don’t take my daily dose, and perhaps the first day I’m fine, but by day two or three my paranoia returns, my low self esteem paired with an irritation level unbearable for me and those closest to me.The world begins to close in against me. So I sigh, accept defeat and pop the little white pills once more and everything is fine. I hate it. I hate accepting that to achieve ‘normal’ I need medication. It’s embarrassing!
However what Stephen shared takes some of the sting out of my shame. It makes me feel less alone, less odd, and helps me accept myself more. Because he is a national treasure and this status isn’t changed by his illness, it isn’t him, I’m not thinking about his illness when I watch him perform. It’s one facet, it doesn’t define him. If this can be true about Stephen Fry then it can be true about me. So I’m thanking Stephen Fry, and hoping his medication is working as well as mine.
I think it’s absolutely brilliant that you feel able to ‘talk’ about it on here. Life is full of choices and compromises-there’s no such thing as perfection and ideals are just that. Sometimes the choices are the lesser of two evils, but you still make them. I hope you can feel proud of who you are and the choices you make-they’re not easy but many things in life aren’t.
Thank you. I am beginning to be able to feel proud of being me but it has been a long hard journey and like many of us I have the odd wobble.
I re-tweeted your tweet re teenage depression as I have one in my drafts once Bex has approved it. I would love to see the stigma of ‘mental health’ banished, it would create a much healthier way of viewing it.
Your fab being so open about it and I am so glad your medication is working for you. x x x
I’m sorry that your daughter has experienced this, that is a shame. It would definitely be easier for teenagers if the stigma was reduced as teenage years are self conscious enough.
Some people have to take pills to keep their heart working properly, some so that their sugar levels are stable, you take them to keep your brain working correctly. Think of it like that, just a part of who you are, the same as for any other person. I take medication, and don’t feel the need to come off just for the sake of being ashamed to take them, I’m just happy they work for me. Be proud that you are being such a positive ambassador for mental health!
I think we all feel not-according-to-the-norm, we all have things we are ashamed of because they are “not normal”. For me it’s my son’s genetic condition. It’s not something you can see, just something I carry with me – the shame that he is “not normal”. Different. I wish he could take a little pill and be “normal”.
I applaud you for being able to write about it, and talk about it, and just reminding you (And me) that there is no shame. And that there is no normal.
I’m sorry to hear your son has a genetic condition. I hope you can find a way of lessening your shame.