Dealing with a type two bipolar diagnosis
Lucy talks about her experience of being diagnosed, and living with type two bipolar, and the importance of seeking support.
I’m Lucy and I’m 24 years old. I live in Manchester and work at a creative agency. I love weird themed club nights, Wes Anderson films and talking to anybody who will listen about how great my cats are. After years of being misdiagnosed with depression, and taking antidepressants on a daily basis, I was diagnosed with type two bipolar in February last year.
I’d struggled with severe depression for years
I was used to stints where I was crying constantly or couldn’t see the point in anything. I’ve always been shy and naturally quite melancholic. This was dismissed by counsellors as me being unable to deal with the trauma of my dad’s death when I was younger. In 2015, I went through a few phases which made me question if something else was going on. I was filled with so much energy that I stopped sleeping and went on walks for hours in the middle of the night. I couldn’t keep up with my bizarre and racing thoughts, and filled a whole notebook with them in a matter of days. Everyone around me was so frustrating because they weren’t on my level at all. It was when I came out of this, agitated and exhausted, and wondering why people had been worried about me, that I decided to go back to the doctors who referred me straight to a psychiatrist.
My diagnosis was a shock
I didn’t know that my experience ran deeper than depression. I knew about type one bipolar, but not type two. Bipolar type one is where someone experiences periods of depression and mania or pyschotic breaks. Type two tends to have more periods of depression and a milder form of mania called hypomania. Whilst mania is more severe and can mean that people end up in hospital or with other serious consequences, hypomania involves much higher out-of-character energy levels and changes in mood. I’ve been through far more depressive episodes than hypomanic, but I can’t personally recognise at the time when I’m going through one. My family were really calm about my diagnosis. Both my parents work in mental health which was reassuring, and my friends just understood. I went straight back to work after my psychiatrist’s appointment and told my team at work, who were amazing about it. I’ve been really lucky!
I have to be mindful of how I’m feeling
Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the start of an episode and my normal human emotions! My first warning sign is that I start waking up at 4am every day and totally lose my appetite. I’m naturally quite geared towards being a bit depressive – sometimes if something small goes wrong it’ll send me into spiral thinking ‘that’s it, everything is terrible and my life is falling apart.’ Once I’m in that mindset it’s harder to concentrate and be productive, but my workplace make allowances for that.
When I’m feeling bad I just want people to listen
I’ve always had a tendency to keep things to myself, which ultimately makes everything a million times worse. I have a supportive family but I still hated feeling like a burden. I now know it’s important to open up to people more. My best friend suffers from depression, so she always totally understands what I’m going through and vice versa. I went to an anxiety group for a few months which was really helpful as I could say the most horrible things I’d been thinking and no one would even react!
Relapses are awful. You feel like a failure
Last year my depression completely took over. I kept telling myself I was fine, even though I clearly wasn’t. My manager even called my mum to tell her that he was worried about me. Although I had a good job, a nice flat and great people around me, I just hated being alive and then hated myself for being so ungrateful. There was just an overwhelming sense that I’m just not equipped to handle life. I’ve since recovered from that relapse and am in a much better place, but just knowing that it could happen again at any point is pretty scary.
I want to be able to help people – and I love writing
The future is uncertain as you never know what’s going to happen. I didn’t think I’d make it to this age at times, so that feels like an achievement in itself! I’d love to volunteer with people that are going through similar issues. I’ve got a few half-finished screenplays that I need to finally finish and do something with…maybe try and win the Oscar for Best Short Film – it can’t be that hard can it?
You and your mental health matter
Talk to people. It can be scary and you might worry that people will judge you, or thing you’re crazy. That doesn’t matter. There’s so much that can be done to help you, and it will get so much better.
- SANE offers support and information to people affected by mental illness. Call their helpline on 0300 304 7000, open 4:30pm - 10:30pm every day.
- Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 21-Mar-2018
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