My #timetotalk story
I think I always knew I was different, that something was odd about me, but now I know what it is, so I want to write a letter to a younger me as part of #timetotalk
In the next few years things are going to change so much, you’ll be scared at first, but through it all you will become so much stronger than anyone else could ever make you. You are going to have a series of symptoms that will start out being diagnosed as Bipolar, and you’ll have many challenges that drive you to the edge of reason.
You’ll come through every one of them, you’ll bounce back better and more able than you ever where before, each one will help you learn how to live with this thing that scares people when they find out, oh yeah they will be weird but we’ll get on with that later. The biggest change will be the starting to see and hear things, you will be so scared at first, you will do everything you can to avoid admitting it to yourself, and you think you will never tell anyone else. You will spend days and nights in fear of the next time it happens, you will hate the waiting for it to come, you will feel so alone.
You will worry about the stress it will cause your friends and family to know just how “bad” it has become, that they will treat you differently, like some kind of special case, some kind of out patient, will not allow you to be you, concerned that everything you say or do my be a symptom, you may have to have to have difficult discussions with some of them that you will dictate when they should worry, but you’ll pick a couple who you really trust more than anything that you will allow to step in if they have concerns.
Well me, I want you to know being open about it is the best thing you can ever do, you will learn who your best friends are, those you know and deal with it will show you how great they are, you’ll piss yourself laughing in a Wimbledon coffee shop when a woman looks shocked that one of your friends has just said,
“how many drinks are we ordering for people, or is it just us two today in your head?”
The dark humour of your condition will help you through things. Some things will really freak you out, when you see your dead best friend in front of you for the first time all that pain and anger will flood back, but within a few weeks you’ll embrace it to say all those things to him you never had the time or chance to say before, it will turn out to be quite cathartic.
People will show prejudice, they will question your ability in everything because it turns out your Bipolar is actually a mix of schizophrenia and personality disorder, you’ll think what the fuck has this got to do with my ability to live my life or do my job. When you talk to someone who isn’t there or respond to a voice some people will be rude, it doesn’t matter, your broken in their eyes, but what they see isn’t true. None of your talents or abilities will be taken away from you, though people will try and remove you from things, never let the actions of others in anything dictate how you are or who you are.
You will learn to cope and recognise the signs and warnings, you will learn to cope, and when you embrace your illness you will get to live a better life free from fear, and the huge weight of lying and trying to cover it up.
Don’t get me wrong, this is why I’m writing you this letter, I want you to know that it does get better, but you should know that at times you will be tested in ways that hardly anyone else will be. But in those challenging and difficult times when it seems all is lost you will come to learn that theres a light in you that will still flicker even if its dimmed.
It does get better, and it can get better.
So young me, you have some things that will trouble you, but so many more things to look forward to. You will have the highs and lows of having a mental illness but these trials will teach you something you may never have learned before . . .
You will learn to love yourself, even the bits that other people judge.
because in ten years from now it will be you sat at this laptop as I am, sharing this for people not just yourself.
Oh and never tell your psychiatrist even as a joke that they tell you to burn things, the NHS care setup doesn’t have a sense of humour and you’ll spend 30 minutes explaining you were messing around while they scribble furiously on a pad and give you an appointment for next week not 3 months as usual.