Liz's story: Living with bipolar
I didn't have any history of mental ill health until 2002, when I had depression and was prescribed Prozac. A year later, a series of events led me to become manic and psychotic: my relationship ended, I moved house, I experienced bullying at work for four years, was promoted and I needed to have my nose reconstructed following a sporting injury.
I became 'hyper' but initially neither me nor my friends thought that anything was wrong as I had always been very lively and active. My boss realised that something was wrong and called my parents in order to take me to the doctors.
At this time, my mania led me to believe that I was immortal and the sister of Jesus. Because of this mania I was given drugs to bring me down, but the high dosage caused me to become very depressed and I was hospitalised for six weeks.
It was at this stage that bipolar disorder was diagnosed. After leaving hospital, I lived with my parents where I didn't leave my bed for two weeks and stopped eating. It took me the next eight months to get better after care and encouragement from my step dad and my mum.
I returned to my job as an office manager at an internet publishing company but found that my colleagues' attitude to me changed: they didn't know how to respond. They seemed to be walking on egg shells around me, and were unsure about the kind of work that they should give me. My boss started to scrutinise my work and to undermine me. I left the company soon after.
I experienced further manic episodes in 2004, 2005, 2006 (during one of these I believed that I would be the next Queen - Elizabeth III).
After two and a half years without a further episode, I became manic in November 2008 caused by the stress of worrying about my sister who was ill and not sleeping for three nights. This time I had a lot of negativety around me and have weird spiritual feelings, I quickly recovered: I'm convinced that my decision to stop drinking, give up smoking and to change my lifestyle helped me to get over the last attack and recover quicker.
In 2010 I experienced another manic negative episode this time I thought aliens were on the planet, I was fighting some invisible beings like Neo out of the Matrix. I had prepared my new boyfriend as to what may happen so he was all armed and equipped! He took me to hospital and I spent a week recovering.
In May 2010 I started working with young people with learning difficulties and declared my mental health history. They were brilliant and took me for who I was. It was a real eye opener working in a different field .. I take my hat off to carers!
I did this for a year then went back to work in London , I became very excitable again and felt this time a positive energy around me - I wanted to help and change the world again. (not a bad thing I suppose) I went to see my doctor straight away and he increased my medication. It took a while to kick in and I ended up spending £4,000 on my partner's credit card - whoops ! I recovered quickly again and went to work locally - less stress.
Over the years I have become used to being Bipolar and I'm aware it will always be a part of my life. I complete daily exercise which helps and have also found group and individual counselling sessions to be very helpful.
I feel that now is the right time to share my story and experiences, to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. I want to help other people not to make the mistakes I made and to realise that to manage their condition they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.