World Mental Health Day: How I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teenager

Teenage years are difficult enough as it is,  but having bipolar on top of regular teenage hormones?

A living hell doesn’t even come close to describing it.

I either feel like superwoman, like I could conquer the world, my mind and thoughts racing at 100mph and having endless energy…. then boom. I feel worthless, no energy to leave bed, no motivation and feeling like I don’t even want to be here.
My head has been a mess since I started secondary school- at 16, I was diagnosed with depression and started on an antidepressant called prozac.

Then when I was 17, that diagnosis was changed to cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is the mildest form of bipolar on the spectrum- ‘bipolar lite’ as my CAMHS consultant described it. I was put on seroquel as well as the prozac I was already on and hoped things would get better.

But they didn’t.

I just buried my head in the sand, trying to convince myself and everyone around me I was coping. That was until my physical health started deteriorating FAST.

I suffer from an incurable, debilitating bowel disease.

The symptoms which include severe diarrhea, blood loss, excruciating pain, fatigue and vomiting left me on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Then at 19, after what is called a ‘manic episode’, they re-diagnosed me for one final time.

I had Type 1 bipolar disorder. Not mild any more; severe.

I went into denial, protesting there was nothing wrong with me, even though I knew deep down there was.

They gave me some reading materials on bipolar, and that’s when it fully hit me. It was like reading a booklet about myself.

I spent so long trying to convince myself I wasn’t mad; just sick. It was hard though, especially when my ex-boyfriend sent me messages making fun of the fact I’d been in a mental health unit.

However, now I realise that it’s okay to admit to having bipolar disorder. I’m not mad. I have the same dreams, talents and abilities as any ‘normal’ person- it doesn’t define me and shouldn’t define anyone with a mental health disorder.

Any other part of the body can be defective and everyone is sympathetic – you wouldn’t be stigmatized or called mad for having a broken leg.

So why can’t people understand the brain can be a bit faulty too instead of passing judgement? We are people too and we battle every day to have as normal a life as we can – shouldn’t that be praised rather than stigmatized?

Words by Naomi Hadley

10th of October is World Mental Health Day – join me in sharing your story! #BreakTheStigma #TimeToTalkMentalHealth.

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