Sue's Story: Managing Bipolar Disorder

My symptoms started when I was 15 years old. During my teens and twenties, I put my feelings down to normal teenage stuff like hormones and exams. I repeatedly went to my GP but nothing was done.

I also moved a few times and at one point my medical history was lost, which didn't help.

I can't remember when I received my diagnosis but I was in my thirties at the time. The GP I was seeing at the time for depression (and who I still see now) referred me to a community psychiatric nurse who picked up that I was experiencing mania as well as depression.

I then got referred to a psychiatrist and had an assessment. That's when I got my diagnosis of bipolar. I felt relieved because I knew what was wrong and now I could do something about it.

I didn't tell anyone about it for a long time apart from close family and friends because I wasn't sure how they would react. It was only when I became involved with World Mental Health Day and some anti-stigma work around mental health that I decided I needed to be honest with people. But even then, I only told people that I trusted.

Most of my friends have been supportive, there has only been the odd one or two that haven't. One friend in particular, Beverley, is incredibly supportive. We laugh together all the time and I know that I can phone her at any time of the day or night if I need to chat. I've even given her permission to ring the mental health team if she thinks I need extra help.

My husband has also been very supportive, even though he has found it difficult from time to time. He's looked up information about mental health and bipolar from the internet.

I think it's better that people know that I have bipolar because then I don't have to make excuses for my behaviour. I have a good network of friends who support me and I think that's really important. I also have good professional support but having friends around you is vital. I know it can be difficult for friends to support me when I'm feeling very high or very low, but it does help.