On my way to better health

One of our CYM Champions, Joe explains how mental health isn't a one way street. If you get help, you can begin to make plans for the future. Joe continues to work hard on improving his mental health and we would like to thank him for sharing his story.

"Prior to my illness in 1999, I’d never spent any time in hospital. From my early years at grammar school in 1989, bullying affected my confidence.

Going to university in 1996 was exciting. After being rejected by two sets of friends in 1998, I moved in with other friends whose lifestyle was very different to mine. Late that year I began to feel very lonely. Initially I embraced ‘mind maps’ but soon I felt able to do everything I ever wanted to do. I felt connected to everything. I saw images of God and my birth mother.

My doctor booked an appointment at a local hospital. 4 hours later I was moved to a psychiatric ward, where I spent 5 weeks coming down from the ‘clouds’. A few weeks later I turned 21. After being discharged I took no interest in things. Some antidepressants led to a second stay in the ward and a diagnosis of Bipolar 1.

I finished my degree part-time and worked full-time. In 2003 my consultant told me that I would have Bipolar 1 for life. I kept my condition a secret from most people. No one at work knew. As well as the stigma I perceived from others, I let my condition influence decisions I made.

2016 has been difficult. I went off work sick due to stress and declared my condition to my employer. CBT, mindfulness, being more open and my desire to get better have helped me. Low self esteem and anxiety restrict my development but I’m on my way to better health and feeling a little more connected to people and things."

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